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I will be running this blog alongside studying for my final year of my Geography degree, part-time work, volunteer work and other commitments - as you can imagine things are pretty busy for me, so I cannot be one of those bloggers that have a new post up on a set day each week. Who know's maybe in the future I will be able to, but for now it will be as and when I can. I am new to this blogging thing, so you will all have to bare with me whilst I get my head around it all! As you will be able to see I have set up a 'help' page and a 'crisis' page - I am still constructing the rest of the website, and improvements are still to be made.
So to mark WMHD'16 I thought I would start my blog off with some statistics, well, a lot of statistics which I believe is important for people to know. In any given year 1 in 4 people (1 in 10 young people) will experience a mental health problem. In the same year that my wonderful friend, Curtis whom I knew since I was born, sadly lost his battle with mental illness there were 6,581 suicides in the UK and Republic of Ireland (2014). Of this 4,998 were male and 1,583 were female - 6,581 preventable deaths, 6,581 people’s families and friends left behind. Between 2013 and 2014 the suicide rates in the UK decreased by 5.6% in men but increased by 8.3% in women with the rate being at its highest since 2005 in England. However men are still more than three times more likely to take their own lives than women at 16.8 per 100,000 and 5.2 per 100,000 respectively.
Furthermore research has estimated that over a person’s lifetime 17 in 100 people will experience suicidal thoughts and 3 in 100 people will self-harm. The causes of suicide are complex and in order to reduce this as a society there needs to be collective effort to raise awareness of the issues, reduce stigma, encourage people to seek help before they reach crisis point, and ensure no one is left without support.
Discrimination is often a barrier to discussing mental health issues with 9 in 10 people with a mental illness expressing they have experienced stigma and discrimination. However, we can choose to stand together in the face of a society, which may often feel like a lonely and disconnected place, and we can choose to make a difference by making lives more liveable for those who struggle to cope. After all when ‘I’ is replaced with ‘We’ even ‘Illness’ becomes ‘Wellness”.
If you are suffering from a mental health problem there are no hard and fast rules for talking about it. You should never feel under pressure to tell people that you have a mental health problem if you don’t want to. However, sometimes having the courage to speak out can help you feel better in yourself, and more accepted by others. You may sometimes meet with a negative reaction from people, but sometimes being honest about your mental health can make you feel better, despite people’s reactions as it means you don't have to keep things hidden anymore. If you feel ready to talk about your mental health problem, a few points to help – be prepared, chose a good time, be ready for lots of questions… or none, have some information ready, keep it light, courage is contagious.
I am training and working with numerous mental health charities in order to actively work to combat stigma, raise awareness and provide support to those living with a mental health problem. Saying that, you do not have to be ‘trained’ to discuss mental health with a loved one, small things can make a difference. Don’t just talk, listen: simply being there can mean the world; Remind them you care: small things can make a big difference; Keep in touch: text, call, email or meet up, whatever works for you.
If there is any particular topic that you would like me to discuss, please do contact me via the contact sheet on the home page or via twitter @JodieVolunteers. I hope to cover a wide range of topics that I am passionate about as well as incorporating 'guest posts' from fellow Mental Health Bloggers.
For now that is all from me, keep a look out over the next couple of days as I will be posting some 'Self-Care' tips!
I hope the rest of the day treats you all kindly. Until next time.