IF YOU NEED HELP NOW, PLEASE SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM IMMEDIATELY!
Today is World Mental Health Day! A day to purposely smile at a stranger, say hi to someone in the coffee queue or at the school gate, hug a friend and send a card. The day to open up conversations!
As someone who has recovered from serious mental ill health, but still struggles every now and then, please see today as the first day of creating a new habit! These activities I mention shouldn’t be a once a year thing or just on special occasions, they should be every day – in some small way. You may be busy rushing around feeling the world on your shoulders but smiling at a stranger as you run for the train or sit on the bus could make them feel like they aren’t the only one feeling a little wobbly or trodden by difficult times.
Take time out to send that card or ring a friend, it may seem like a chore but it could do wonders for a loved one who has forgotten that they aren’t alone. It also gives you a break, a chance to get away from your thoughts and do something that will fill a small part of you with joy.
Depression, anxiety, eating disorders and paranoia can show their ugly, challenging head at any time. There can be no trigger, no warning and they don’t always pick on those who will take it with a breeze. Mental ill health can destroy people; their self-worth, self-confidence, ability to talk to others and in some cases their total ability to function. You could be walking along having a wonderful day and wham! Anxiety and a wave of burning panic can hit. I will share my tips on how to manage these moments later. It’s not always sudden though, it can be built up over years and years of difficult times, childhood trauma, relationships, illness, pregnancy, abuse, traumatic events and many more factors.
I have experienced mental illness in both ways and still do today!
Mental ill health affects at least 1 in 4 people and most people directly or indirectly at some point in their life!
Suicide rates are worryingly high for all ages – has it always been this way (I think so) or are we at a point in life where it’s being taken more seriously? I hope so. There is lots of stats and images being put on social media saying suicide is biggest cause of death for particular age ranges and genders, but actually, we can’t focus on those! Suicide is happening everywhere, no matter your age or gender.
Did you know that for every individual who dies by suicide, there may be more than 20 others attempting to end their life, plus another 135 people affected by it?! This is the same for anyone struggling with any mental or physical health illness, their illness doesn’t just affect them. It ripples through in to friends, family and co-workers, leading to potentially more dark thoughts, anxious weeks, doctors visits and hospital admissions.
This is why us as a giant team need to remember that you can’t see these events in others walking by. We may smile to hide our trauma sometimes and say we are ‘ok’ when we aren’t. Why? Because it’s easier…we think! Have you thought when you are doing these actions, how many others may be doing exactly the same. We have to start being honest and if you aren’t ok then say so, it could be the biggest relief in itself. I recently created this pact with my friends and it’s helped us all. Even if its just a quick text or WhatsApp message, we are honest and are getting our feelings out in the open. It hasn’t made us weaker, it’s made us closer and actually, it’s helped us realise that how ever inspirational and totally awesome we think each other are, we are all the same. We all have worries and anxiety triggers, they just arrive at different times and for different reasons.
You may sit and say that government or the NHS need to do more…they can’t do much!! Sorry if that offends you or you think i’m wrong, but I don’t think they really can. Government can put laws in place and they can launch wonderful ‘initiatives’ that reach wide audiences, but public services don’t have the resources to manage the new regulations and provide the top level support. Funding could be put in the right places you might say, perhaps! But who determines the right place when we all have different passions, needs and requirements. No matter, where funding is placed there is people who won’t be happy.
The one thing government can do is make Mental health first aid training a legal requirement in every workplace. We need that ASAP!
The NHS can’t do anymore either, they can’t support their staff properly and in turn struggle to support us. They have a team of the most incredible and highly skilled nurses, doctors, surgeons and therapists, but not enough! They are under staffed, under paid and under funded, struggling themselves with their own mental ill health whilst trying to keep going and provide the best care. The NHS leaders are starting to look at alternative therapies with social prescribing beginning to take shape and they are beginning to understand the crucial importance of personalised care. Moving away from purely number driven evidence and research is kicking in at a slow pace. It’s getting faster the more I keep talking at the NHS conferences I’ve recently been attending!
They are trying to make the change, but…we have to do more as individuals! We have to talk more and drive the change and that it is exactly what I’m doing!
Industry needs to do more too – that’s where the money is! The gardening industry should invest in supporting gardening therapies. The art industry should support those providing art based therapies…and so on! The IT and banking industry should invest in every therapy.
I could carry on forever but i’m conscious that you may be so far deep in your own struggles that you just need help now!!!
So what can you do to get help or help yourself:
– BE HONEST!
– Find a quiet, shady spot and take time out
– Run a bath, go boxing, dig your garden, plant some bulbs or make a cup of tea – do whatever your favourite thing is that usually brings you a small sense of calm or joy.
– Go to your GP. If you don’t like GP’s, contact a mental health hospital direct, such as the Cardinal Clinic. They are incredible and changed my life!
– Text or ring a friend
– Ring NHS 111
– Message me on here, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or via email
– Write down your thoughts
– Sign up to the Meetup App – it’s free and connects you to others in your community with similar interests.
Contact the following organisations:
Samaritans: Ring 116 123 or https://www.samaritans.org/
YoungMinds: Text YM to 85258 for urgent help or https://youngminds.org.uk/
Shout Crisis text line: In a crisis, text Shout to 85258
Rethink Mental Illness: Call Rethink on 0300 5000 927
LIFE AT NO.27 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Anxiety UK: 03444 775 774
CALM: for men aged 15 to 35 – 0800 58 58 58 or www.thecalmzone.net
Men’s Health Forum: www.menshealthforum.org.uk
Bipolar UK: www.bipolaruk.org.uk
No Panic: 0844 967 4848 or www.nopanic.org.uk
Beat (eating disorders): 0808 801 0677 (adults) or 0808 801 0711 (for under-18s)
SANE: 0300 304 7000 (daily, 4.30pm to 10.30pm) or www.sane.org.uk/support
We are all in this crazy world together, nearly all thinking we are having crazy thoughts at some point! You are never alone! It’s normal to not be ok and have a bad day, but if it continues get help!