Why I'm supporting World Mental Health Day 2012
Posted Wednesday 10 October 2012
I have suffered from depression all my life. This isn’t something I realised until very recently. I thought everyone felt the way I did! Having seen the way my family and friends reacted to my aunt’s mental health problem, I was determined that mine would not be treated as a dirty little secret.
Mental illness is the last taboo. It is an unseen disability which makes it harder to appreciate and understand. So I welcome World Mental Health Day 2012 as it will increase awareness of one of the most prevalent problems today.
A lot of mental health services provide excellent support for the people who need them, however the different elements do not always work effectively together and having been through it, I know it is not always a comprehensive system.
Where I live, to receive immediate care you need to be in crisis and you need to have been assessed to need help from the Community Mental Health Team.
But what happens if you are the type of person that is trying to keep it together or are afraid to admit you need help? And then, suddenly, something happens, and you are crying on the floor with a knife in your hand, or you are ready to step in front of a train.
That may sound a bit dramatic, however, for far too many of us; it feels that this is the only way out.
Under the current system, someone in this situation still may not meet the criteria for secondary care, but their needs may be too complex for primary care to manage successfully. This can mean they are caught without any support at all. That cannot be allowed to continue.
It is well known that 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem during our lives, and if we haven’t experienced it ourselves, we will probably know a family member or colleague that has.
Mental illness isn’t a weakness and Victoria Pembleton, Ruby Wax and Winston Churchill are examples of people who prove that this is a disability that does not discriminate.
It is important we talk to people like Mind, Time to Change and Rethink about mental health. But it is equally important that we reach out to each other and support our friends, family and work colleagues through any problems they are having with their mental health.
One thing I believe is that good mental health, just like good sexual health, needs to be taught in our schools. I do not want any child to go through school feeling the way I did. I wouldn’t want any child to think it is OK to stigmatise people in the same way my aunt was.
For these reasons and many more, I am proud to support World Mental Health Day 2012.
You can also follow Helen on Twitter @HelenMcStravick
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