Here it comes again, World Mental Health Day, this Sunday. It seems to always roll around at this time of year but then, like Halloween, it’s forgotten and gone. Except for those who have mental illness – we always remember, whatever the day.
Why is there so little attention paid to mental illness unless accompanied with eyes rolled heavenward?
One in four people is affected; that’s a pretty large chunk of the population. If it’s not you, it’s your cousin, mother or friend. If they don’t say they have it, it’s probably fear of rejection by friends, being fired at work or, worse, being pitied.
Why is it that every organ in your body can go down and you’ll get a sympathy card, except the brain?
When I was institutionalised, I got very few good luck cards or flowers. If I had a broken leg or a case of shingles, I’d be inundated. I just got a few phone calls telling me to “Perk up”.
Oh, “Perk up?” I didn’t think of that!
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Andrew Crowley for the Telegraph)
Not only do people think you’re making it up but in the end, you think you’re making it up, stigmatising yourself more than anyone else can.
When you have a mental disorder, like depression, you get a big double whammy –you’re ill but you can’t tell you’re ill.
Because when the very thing that makes these assessments – your brain – has gone down, it can’t give a correct reading. If you had a spare brain it would tell you, but you don’t.
I had to ask my agent if she thought I was crazy and she said: “Yes”.
I just thought my old personality had been replaced by a block of cement and that depressed me even more.
Maybe you don’t want to do anything about it or tell anyone because of something you get free with the package: shame.
You don’t just have the few usual nagging thoughts with this illness, you get hundreds of thousands of self-critical thoughts. If the devil had Tourette’s, it would sound like that.
If you go to an emergency ward and tell them you’re having a mental breakdown, good luck getting a bed or even seeing a nurse.
I’ve known people on the cusp of suicide who’ve been told there’s a waiting list of six months – if they’re lucky. If you had a heart attack, you’re whipped to a hospital immediately. Something “mental” just doesn’t cut it.
The word “mental” has been taken too lightly for too long.
Mental wellbeing is a repulsively soft expression. What does it mean?
It’s the mothership that determines your every thought and action – move, plan, dream… you name it, the brain makes it.
The Daily Mirror is launching our new campaign HeadStrong: Better Mental Health For All.
We’re calling for:
- Early Access Mental Health Hubs for under 25s to be rolled out across the country, with at least one for each trust.
- Waiting times to be cut so people actually start treatment with a professional within four weeks
- The Govt to fill in the gaps in care – an end of red tape which means many don’t fit the set criteria to get help plus 8,500 more mental health staff
- Compulsory Mental Health education lessons in schools, plus paid counsellors in schools and care homes
Want to help? Write to your MP and ask them to support the current Early Day Motion 459 to debate mental health and the pandemic in parliament.
It’s what defines who you are and really is the only thing that counts as far as your existence, so why is it always last on the list of where the money for research goes?
Mental is physical and physical is mental. The body and the mind are connected – it’s like a onesie.
When the mothership gets overloaded or distressed, it sends a message through the body to release cortisol. The good news is it gets you ready for flight or fight or freeze for the purpose of survival.
The bad news is, if the cortisol doesn’t shut off and it becomes chronic, it can eventually take down your immune system which makes you vulnerable to certain diseases: Type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease, obesity, infertility, premature ageing… and last, but not least, mental illness.
People in HR in business and teachers should be trained to spot depression among other illnesses.
If someone looks sad or anxious, that’s not depression.
If the eyes look dead for more than a few weeks, there’s a big problem.
At that point the teacher or HR person should gently ask if the person wants help and if they do, they should be taken to a GP for medication. These illnesses don’t go away by wishful thinking.
If teachers or HR staff in companies aren’t trained for mental illness, then counsellors need to be brought in, which costs money.
Where is that going to come from?
Something has got to change because now it’s one in three young people affected by mental illness and the suicide rate is shocking.
Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another year. Let’s do something now. Or dare I say, maybe even this week?
How to get help: If you are struggling or you are worried about a loved one, contact Samaritans on 116123. For more advice visit nhs.uk/mental-health or www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus