Mental Health – to give a shit, or not to give a shit?

Posted: June 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

When will mental healthcare be given the status and funding it needs?

We cannot function as healthy, sociable and productive members of society if we are at odds with our own being. Mental health covers a HUGE range of issues, from low self-esteem and depression to substance abuse and full-blown psychosis.

One in four of us will suffer with a mental health issue at some point in our lives. For some people, it can be one episode, or occasional short episodes. For others, it’s a chronic problem which can be really debilitating.

I suffered with an eating disorder since I was 15. Several members of my family have suffered with depression. I know addicts, manic depressives, eating disorder sufferers, post-natal depression sufferers and people with crushingly low self-esteem. That last one doesn’t sound like an illness, does it? But lets look at what a disability is: I’ve looked at several online definitions, including that of the UK government, but as far as I see it, a disability is something which prevents a person from living a “normal” life. So yes, a broken limb is a short-term disability. Poor vision is a disability. Agoraphobia is a disability.

People with low self-esteem – and indeed, a whole host of other mental health issues – will see problems and difficulties in their lives as evidence of their own failure or inadequacies as opposed to what they really are, which is symptoms of the illness which will affect every aspect of their lives – social, familial, work, education, physical health.  But because mental health is not given the attention it needs, sufferers often think that there is something intrisically wrong with them, and therefore don’t think to seek help. This in turn will prevent them from going for the things they want in life, as they’ll have already decided that they’ll fail or disappoint in whatever they try to do. This perceived lack of achievement (a lot of mental health sufferers are really smart and/or talented) adds to the sense of worthlessness, and we’re stuck in a vicious cycle.

Add to that the huge stigma that is attched to mental health, and is it any wonder that so many people suffer in silence, or attempt to put on a brave face and soldier on, or in the worst cases, confine themselves to their home and don’t interact with others as a result of their belief that they are not “worth it” and that they’re less good than others.

If you know someone who you think may have a mental health issue – and the chances are you will, as most of us know more than four people – PLEASE be there for them, be sensitive, and try to direct them towards the help they need. Unfortunately the system isn’t perfect, and due to the horrendous lack of resources, waiting lists can be lengthy, but if they have the support of people they know and trust, and feel that something can be done, and that they’re taking positive steps toward change, that can do a whole lot in itself.

Visit http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/

I’m running to raise money for beat – the Eating Disorders Association. All money raised will go towards treating the millions of people who suffer with eating disorders. http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/vezkirkpatrick

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