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Why Mental Health Matters

We believe mental health matters.

We will share individuals own stories and feelings about why mental health matters.  If you would like the chance to have your say please contact us.

Watch this youtube clip of why mental health matters to Jacqui Clark, who used to work with Mind Your Head.

Karen Smith

Mental Health matters to me because I fundamentally believe that we are all 'mental' beings - in the same way as we are all 'physical' beings. And mental health is just as important as physical health.

Karen Smith pictured during 2013 Suicide Prevention Awareness Week

If we are to grow and to flourish, if we are to contribute individually and collectively to society, we need to accept that we are 'mental' beings with emotional and spiritual needs, as well as physical ones.

Mental Health is "the emotional and spiritual reilience which enables us to enjoy life and surivive pain, suffering and disapointment.  It is a positive sense of wellbeing and an underlying belief in our and others dignity and worth.  It is influenced by our experience and our genetic inheritance."  (World Health Organisation).

Debbie Wynn

Mental health matters to me because I have been affected by a number of different mental health illnesses. Personally, I suffer with depression and anxiety, but I have family members who also have depression.

I worked on Ward 3 for a few years, where I encountered a number of different illnesses and disorders related to mental health.  I have seen and felt the debilitating effect poor mental health can have on people and their loved ones.  I know the pain of facing stigma for my 'hidden' illness.

I also know how hard you have to work to try and get better and ultimately face the world.  My mental health has changed greatly over the past 5 years from feeling on top of the world to utter devastation.  Anybody can be affected by poor mental health, in the same way we are all at risk of more 'physical' health problems.

There is no need for the stigma around metnal health, and hopefully we won't have it anymore.

Mental health matters because it's everyone who is affected, and my mental health has changed my life.

 

Debbie volunteers with Mind Your Head and has also started her own personal blog called Happiness is Weird, where she records her recovery from depression.  You can visit her blog by clicking here.

Shona Manson

Shona Manson is chair of Mind Your Head. As we approach Christmas she discusses why mental health matters to her.

Having battled with depression on and off since my early 20’s I can only begin to empathise with anyone who is struggling at this time of year.  For me it’s the overwhelming dark and cold, which combined with the ongoing challenge of maintaining positive mental health regularly renders me wishing I was a creature that was allowed to hibernate..... a big brown bear, a prickly peerie hedgehog or even wir cat Tom - who seems to adopt such practices with great ease!

As a generally sociable person I know I’m going downhill when the phone ringing makes me want to swear, the suggestion of a planned night out has me making excuses and I hear myself being negative and making mountains out of things which are more   commonly peerie mole hills!

Folk tend to think that depressed people lie in bed crying but depression can present itself with many different faces - sometimes via a smiley face.  What we don’t know is what’s going on behind that face.  Medication and talking therapies can help with depression but there is much we can do for ourselves and one another.

For me at this time of year it’s the support and understanding of good friends and family, the light box, my partner trying extra hard to understand even when he doesn’t, keeping going for my lads, kicking myself out the door to exercise and managing my internal self talk - which is an ongoing reminder that this ‘black dog’ can be trained and believing that the faster I run the harder it will be for him to catch me!

Find out more about depression.

 

Ashlea Tulloch

Ashlea Tulloch suffered from panic attack and anxiety related ill health in her late teens. She wanted to share her story because “If I had heard my story when I was younger it might have helped me realise what was happening to me.” This is her story and this is why mental health matters to her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t remember exactly when it started.  I started to get really quiet.  I felt self conscious.  I was so uncomfortable being round people.  I stopped going to school more and more.  I came up with every excuse under the sun.  I didn’t understand why.  It became harder to leave the house.  I kind of lost touch with nearly all of my friends.

I eventually suffered from really bad panic attacks.  I was hot, I couldn’t breathe.  I didn’t know what was happening.  I pretty much missed the whole of fifth year.  I had to  re-sit the next year.  I thought this was a clean start and I could start again but it was worse.  That was when I started to cry.  I felt sad.  I felt really really down. 

My Mum came back with a note from pupil support.  She hadn’t realised I’d been off school as much as I had.  She was upset and confused.  I made a real effort to go in.  I’d cut everyone out of my life though.  People only listen to excuses for so long.  I went to my Beanfeast.  It was probably one of the worst nights of my life.  I had nobody to sit with, nobody to talk to.  That was when it hit me I couldn’t go to school anymore.  I couldn’t leave the house.  I was only 17.

We decided to go and get help.  My Mum came to the doctors with me.  Sitting in the waiting room was horrible.  I’d gone from not going to school to not leaving the house to not even leaving my room.  I had no interests.  I slept all day.  I cried all night.  For months on end.  It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done – sitting in that waiting room. 

My Mum led the conversation with the doctor.  The doctor said I would be put on a waiting list.  After all of that – working myself up and getting out to someone outside of my parents to be told I was on a waiting list was hard.  After months on the waiting list I got to see a Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN).  You had to sign a contract so you understood what would happen.  I was put on medication but I didn’t really take it.  I didn’t attend appointments.

What helped me get better was everyone acknowledging there was a problem.  I started to get bored.  I  didn’t have to leave my room but now I kind of wanted to.  Tiny tiny little steps like I can’t go outside but I could walk to the gate and back.  I don’t want to be out in the daytime but I could take the dog for a walk at night.  And of course the support of my family was incredible.

I now enjoy lots and lots of good days rather than bad. 

Find out more about panic attacks here and anxiety here.

Norman

Norman is aged 14 and wrote an essay entitled "Is there too much stigma surrounding mental health?" Norman agreed for this essay to be shared here.

Is there too much stigma surrounding mental health?

Mental health affects an estimated 450 million people worldwide, so why is there so much stigma towards people with a mental health illness?  This essay will be explaining what stigma is, how it affects people’s daily lives, look at facts and figures supporting the argument, and suggest how you can help stop stigma towards mental health.

The word stigma was first explored by the French sociologist Emile Durkhiem.  He explored stigma as a social phenomenon in 1895.  The word stigma means in the Oxford English Dictionary, “A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person” for example “the stigma of mental health disorder”.  Stigma is used because of a lack of knowledge (ignorance), and results in prejudice and discrimination.

Stigma regarding mental health prevents people seeking help about their mental health problems.  A study of adults experiences of stigma towards mental health shows that 70% of participants experienced discrimination in response to their own or another’s mental health, and worryingly 44% had experienced discrimination by their GP.  The majority of people assume that people with mental health disorders are “crazy”.  And therefore there is stigma towards their mental health disorder; however the majority of violent crimes and murders are committed by people who do not have mental health problems.  The evidence to support this, is “In a study of crimes committed by people with serious mental health disorders, only 7.5% were directly related to symptoms of mental illness, according to new research by the American Psychological Association”.

Stigma surrounding mental health affects people’s daily lives because people with mental health problems are amongst the least likely of any group with a long-term condition or disability to find work, be in a steady and long-term relationship, live in decent housing and be socially included in mainstream society.  This is because society in general has stereotypical views about mental illness and how it affects people, and therefore stigma is an on-going problem.

There are many facts and figures surrounding stigma regarding mental health.  Some of the most shocking in my opinion is when it says “A total of 37% of people had also experienced a negative social impact resulting from their mental health – and increase on the 2008 figure of 28%”.  Furthermore “47% of people with a mental illness face stigma and discrimination at least once a month.  58% of sufferers say the stigma and discrimination is as damaging or harder to deal with than the illness itself”.  Finally “About a quarter of the population will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year, with mixed anxiety and depression the most common mental disorder in Britain”.  The facts and figures surrounding stigma towards mental health are well documented statistically.  These statistics are very concerning because they show that stigma is increasing rather than decreasing, and that we need to learn that we should try to decrease stigma toward mental health.

Mental illness affects children as well as adults.  It is concerning that “Rates of mental health problems among children increase as they reach adolescence.  Disorders affect 10.4% of boys aged 5-10, rising to 12.8% of boys aged 11-15, and 5.9% of girls aged 5-10, rising to 9.65% of girls aged 11-15”.  Furthermore “1.5% or just over 132,000 of all children and young people will have severe ADHD and 0.9% or 80,000 of children and young people are seriously depressed”.  These statistics are concerning because children and young people, unlike some adults, cannot deal with stigma as well, and therefore are often more unlikely to seek help.  A quote from a BME focus group participant shows this when he/she says “A young person would be too scared to actually go address it because it puts a label on you and it’s not a label that you want to be associated with”.  This shows stigma affects children and young people severely.

There are many ways to overcome stigma surrounding mental health, such as we should avoid generic terms such as “retarded” or “the mentally ill”, or using terms like “crazy”, “lunatic” or “slow functioning”.  You should emphasize abilities, not limitations, when talking about someone who has a mental illness.  Everyone has strengths that are not related to a mental illness, and you can focus on those when discussing and individual.  There are three main types of anti-stigma interventions, Education (being taught that stigma towards mental health is bad), Consumer contract (introducing people to other people to show them the stigmatising attitudes are wrong) and Cognitive behaviour therapy (talking to people in a special organised way with homework so that their stigmatising attitudes change).  With the myths that surround mental health, there are also facts which counteract them, for example the myth “1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year”.  These are some of the ways that you can overcome stigma, although I think we still have a very long way to go.

To conclude, is there too much stigma surrounding mental health? Yes there is and it is increasing rather than declining.  There are a lot of aspects surrounding stigma which contributes to the way a person with a mental illness is viewed, such as prejudice, ignorance and discrimination.  In my opinion, to decrease stigma surrounding mental health, people should educate themselves and others about mental illnesses, and should learn to treat people equally, no matter the differences.  Maybe we could possibly eradicate it by treating mental illness as what it is; and illness.  Thus 450 million people worldwide would lead a better life.

 

Word Count: 934

Name: Norman

 

Sources:

  1. http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/mental-health-statistics-facts
  2. http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-a-z/s/stigma-discrimination
  3. http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/what-are-mental-health-problems/stigma-discrimination
  4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-29988223
  5. http://www.mentalhealthcare.org.uk/discrimination_and_stigma
  6. http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/stats.html
  7. http://www.youngminds.org.uk/training_services/policy/mental_health_statistics?gclid=CLeywNCL7sUCFrpwgodURoAzA
  8. http://www.mentalhealthconnection.org/stigma.php

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