Mental health: an “invisible disability”

As you are all probably aware, mental health is a current major issue, and as a result, awareness over the topic has recently grown to spread alertness and help a larger proportion of the population to gain an understanding, allowing help to be provided to those in need more quickly.

“1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem over the course of a year”

This week has recently been named mental health week, where a series of programmes are being shown on BBC 1 over the period of 2 weeks called In The Mind, which illustrate various mental health issues and people’s experiences concerning different disorders. These include ‘The Not So Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive: 10 Years On’, which demonstrates Stephen Fry’s struggle upon living with manic depression, which was aired on Monday 15 February, and ‘Professor Green: Suicide And Me’ which is to be repeated on Thursday 18 February on BBC 1 at 11:45pm. These interesting programmes allow viewers to witness the extremes that the mind can be taken, and  how people have managed to recover or monitor their mental health issue to achieve a positive mental health state. I would certainly recommend watching them!_88246365_tumblr_mub0l5zjw81qbehyfo1_1280

Upon researching about mental health issues, I came across a series of intriguing articles about how people whom have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder and struggled to discuss in words, exactly how they are feeling, have found comfort through an array of drawings, comic strips and photographs that, some have stated, explain exactly how they are feeling! This is immensely encouraging as it just demonstrates another leap forward in aiding awareness about the topic.

“1 in 1o young people will experience a mental health disorder”

I recently participated in a mental health first aid (Youth lite) 3 hour course that gave an brief insight into young people’s mental health and common mental health issues. We learnt about some of the common mental health issues that are currently affecting young people, with a more in-depth look at depression, eating disorders, psychosis and anxiety. 

MHFA_Youth_logoThe enthusiastic instructor,whom was excellent in providing detailed facts and comfortably drew from personal experience to ensure we received a thorough understanding of mental health issues, advised us upon how to support a young person with a mental health issue and how to more easily relate to their experience, whilst also demonstrated the stigma and discrimination surrounding the topic.

Upon first entering the room, the instructor straight away questioned us if we had mental health. A few confidently answered yes, some replied no, whilst others were unsure at what was in fact being asked. “Do you have mental health?”. It was explained that our confusion was natural, as the question and matter concerning it are so rarely talked about, that is is normal to be slightly baffled. It gradually became evident throughout the next exercise that everyone found it instantaneously easier to talk about the negatives language surrounding mental health issues opposed to the positive, encouraging and inspirational talk, which is something I definitely hope all the increased coverage will change! 

“Mental health is the emotional and spiritual resilience which enables us to enjoy life and to survive pain, disappointment and sadness. It is a positive sense of wellbeing and an underlying belief in our own, and others’, dignity and worth”

-HEA 1997

Throughout the course we watched a video about a young woman whom had been diagnosed with depression during her teenage years following an accumulation of stress over exams an school school, and relationship problems. The inspirational and detailed video showed the women describing herself in her worst state, and took us through her journey from when she first felt strong feelings of depression where she refused, for days and sometimes weeks on end to leave her bedroom, to her diagnosis as she gradually received more help and guidance to enable her to ensure a positive mental health state of mind, to her current days, where the women’s self confidence and most of all happiness as radiant through the video! It was incredible the transformation she described, and also her confidence to share the journey she’s faced, which I believe would be one of the most challenging parts, to make it more relatable for others and hopefully encourage those with mental health issues to confidently seek help when it is needed.

“Every year in the UK, 70 million workdays are lost due to mental illness, including anxiety, depression and stress related conditions”

The course, albeit a lite version, truly was greatly interesting and engaging to help demonstrate the desperate need for more awareness of mental health issues. At the end of the course we received a manual which covers the contents of the training course, whilst also displaying various risk factors for poor/good mental health, a stress bucket analogy used to demonstrate how to manage your mental health and a range of mental health conditions showing signs, risk factors and treatments. Its a significantly interesting read! I would truly recommend booking a place at a place near you, or at least reading more about the topic on daily news sites or websites to help raise awareness surrounding mental health issues, allowing it to have the funding and appreciation this health sector needs!

The main points I took away from the session:

  • With the right support, most young people with mental health problems will get better.
  • Mental health problems are not a choice and people can not just ‘snap out of it’. The  symptoms are not in their control.
  • Over half of the people with alcohol and substance misuse issues have mental health problems.
  • Recovery is unique and specific to every individual. 
  • A young person with a diagnosis of a serious illness but who copes well and has a positive mental health is a safe place to be.
  • Listening is one of the best treatments 🙂

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