World Mental Health Day is on the 10th October every year. It’s aim is to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world.
Our goal at CMHS UK is to challenge Mental Health services and try to improve the services which are available. Awareness is a key factor, and raising awareness amongst young people can only help to de-stigmatise mental illness.
Children soak up information from the world around them. If they are in an environment where they are given negative views about their feelings and about talking about or sharing their worries, they are likely to view people with depression in a negative way. And if these children start to feel overwhelmed by their emotions, they will probably feel ashamed, try to hide what they feel and will not seek help.
But if we encourage an environment where talking about how you feel is acceptable, where asking for help is not considered to be a weakness, these children may still suffer from a mental illness, but they will know how to ask for help and won’t feel ashamed or different or needy.
We need our mental well-being to be equally as important as our physical well-being.
World Mental Health Day is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness and remove the stigma.
The charity Young Minds have created a toolkit for getting involved. As an internet community we can get involved in the following ways:
Wear Something Yellow
Hello Yellow Bunting
The full toolkit is available here, complete with downloadable bunting and fundraising ideas.
My last blog ended by saying I was feeling anxious.
It got worse.
I had been being strong and supportive for my family. I don’t know how many other people experience this, but I have the ability to be strong and in control when other people are in trouble. So it could be being a passenger in a car and the driver taking a wrong turn and getting lost. I am mostly able to be calm and supportive and encouraging while everyone else is flapping. In my work life I was able to work for a deadline and get everything done properly and on time. In personal dramas I am able to take control of the situation, whatever it may be. It’s like I thrive on danger and adrenaline and I do things I never knew I could do.
The down side to this is after the “danger” is over. I can go from being strong and decisive one minute to being weak and vulnerable and scared the next.
I think this is what happened a few days ago. I was being strong and capable for my family, then as soon as they were feeling less vulnerable, my vulnerability soared. I know this happens, I have experienced it many times. The result is complete helplessness and fear. For a few days I try to maintain semi normal life, but I struggle. Then I give up and just zone out. My feelings are numb, I feel vacant, I experience heightened sensitivity to sound. I want to hide away and sleep forever. I want everyone to leave me alone but secretly crave help. I isolate.
And then I start coming back to life. In this instance it was a phone call from the health centre telling me I needed to book a routine appointment. The following day I went to see my GP and told her my fears and concerns. She listened, she made a suggestion about the possibility of staying with family until I felt better. I cried.
The next day I was me again. I was (and am) still tired, the experience always takes a lot out of me, but I was functioning and had emotions and wasn’t scared of people any more. My head was full of ideas, I was back in doing mode.
When I got involved in the campaign to improve mental health treatment, I already had a little experience of starting a petition.
It was a few months ago, I found a petition from a serving police officer who wanted the Government to consider an emergency service specifically for Mental Health:
Consider a Nationalised, funded Mental Health First Response Service.
UK Police Forces and NHS services now spend around 30% of their time responding to Mental Health sufferers who do not receive the best attention or assistance. A MH Service that are the first responders to Suicide risks and Sectioning requests, who can convey MH Patients to the correct facilities.
Working in the Police, it is being increasingly more and more difficult to tackle Crime and deal with Community issues, when every 3 or 4 of 10 incidents we are responding to are for Mental Health patients that require specialised help that we cannot provide.
This is tying up Emergency resourcing that can be better used elsewhere, and would provide MH patients with the best care and help possible.
Sectioning people and attending Suicide Risks would be better dealt by more a appropriate agency
This struck a chord with me. I had recently been feeling very unwell and on the verge of crisis. I had a telephone number for a crisis team attached to my local Mental Health Trust, but I didn’t have a positive opinion of the service based on the one occasion I had tried to use it. I thought this proposal to dial 999 was a good idea and signed the petition.
Then I found myself discussing petitions with friends, spoke about this one for an emergency service, and in the course of the discussion developed the idea a little further. I decided that “consider” was not enough. I wanted it to happen. Looking in to the pros and cons of the idea would be part of the process, surely? A friend’s daughter works for a Lobbying organisation and I was encouraged to start a new petition.
So here it is:
To: Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP
Mental health emergency service
Create an emergency service to deal exclusively with mental health issues. To be used by members of the public on the 999 number, and to be linked to the other emergency services.
Why is this important?
At the moment I am going through a tough patch with anxiety and depression and I find myself feeling scared. I increasingly feel that I want to go to hospital, but am aware that it is much harder to become an inpatient than it was 20 years ago.
An issue I saw on the Government petition website made me think.
If long term sufferers like me, or their families, phoned 999 they could be put through to a person trained to deal with these issues. They could provide immediate support or intervention or a referral. This would free up the police and ambulance services. If another emergency service needed to be involved, this could be assessed and coordinated.
Equally, one of the other emergency services could contact the mental health team for advice or to require a physical presence by one of the team.
I shared it with my friends, added information backing up why it was needed and emailed some charities in the hope they would support it or comment on the feasibility of the idea.
I have had doubts as to where the money and the extra personnel needed would come from. The emergency services seem to be overstretched as it is. But if you don’t ask you don’t get!
So when this new initiative to improve mental health services was first broached, I thought yes, I can help. The difference would be that this time I wouldn’t be on my own, there would be a group of us all striving towards the same goal. People who can offer encouragement, advice, knowledge and ideas.
Which brings us to now. Emails have been sent, a Facebook page has been set up (and has been noticed). This website has been created and has been noticed, not only in the UK but also America, China, Spain and Ireland. We have had lots of encouraging comments about people wanting to help and get involved.
But there is a lot of work still to do. There are probably thousands of petitions out there, all vying for the public’s attention and support. Somehow we have to make ours stand out.
We are still fine tuning the details of the petition, but will share it here as soon as it is up and running.
As an end note, if anyone knows the person who started the petition that inspired mine, I would love to get in touch.
Write blogs or articles about your personal experiences with mental health and its treatment. Bear in mind that the content will be public so don’t disclose any personal details. Post them on our Facebook Page and I’ll add them to the “Our Stories Page” on this site.