Food for thought: Mental Health

Mental health is highly stigmatised and is rarely spoke about in public, however it has recently becoming a prevalent topic of discussion in terms of the NHS budget as it was revealed last week that mental health spending has fallen by 2%. Frankly this is not on. After attending a mental health first aid course last week, the surprising and shocking statistics really highlight the need for more to be done.

So do you have mental health? Perhaps a difficult question to answer? What actually is mental health?

Mental health is defined as 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 with an underlying belief in ones self worth.

What are the influences on a child’s mental wellbeing?

A child’s upbringing has a significant influence in their wellbeing in the future, whether this be in terms of parenting styles or family relationships. Additionally the education of the child becomes a determining factor, especially in terms of exam pressures, bullying and friendship pressures.

Why is mental health so hard to talk about?

During this talk we did an exercise in groups in which task one was to write down as many derogatory terms for a person with poor mental health; and this was surprisingly easy. Task two was to articulate as many supportive phrases you could offer to one with a mental health problem; this task was much more onerous task. The moral of the task was to highlight the derogatory terms associated with mental health has become second nature and perhaps more ought to be done in learning to display effective support. Its important to remember that often the stigma and discrimination hurts mental health sufferers more than the illness itself. This is the reason why those affected are reluctant to open up about their experiences.

I recently saw an article which displayed a series of comic strip images which are changing the way social media view mental health. The artist said “I wasn’t really drawing anyone  but clearly it has deep resonance”. I truly believe this depiction is a strong message which really makes it easier to interpret exactly how those experiencing problems feel, plus being displayed on social media makes it ever more accessible to the everyday person. Perhaps as more people see these images, the social stigmas will begin to change.

_88246361_print-image1 _88246363_helpful-advice _88246365_tumblr_mub0l5zjw81qbehyfo1_1280 _88246367_unspecified _88274125_2014-06-24-morehelpfuladvice _88247349_unspecified_88274127_tumblr_nz5mqnncxn1qglhc3o1_500_88274133_tumblr_inline_nyzmfbebfj1qg00mm_500mentalhealth2_88274131_tumblr_inline_nyzlk1r2ne1qg00mm_500The six key points taken from my mental health first aid course were:

  1. We all have mental health needs
  2. 1 in 4 people will experience mental health issues
  3. People do recover, mental health can be managed
  4. To be supportive all you need to do is listen
  5. Treat people as though you want to be treated
  6. Take it easy and learn to look after yourself


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