Mental Health Matters – Fact and Fiction
I have seen many ‘real life’ situations and have a good understanding of where and how mental health issues can impact on an individual. There is little doubt that the reach of mental health issues is very broad indeed, impacting upon those who are very young right through to the elderly and across every demographic and social group. Having the opportunity to represent in this area for over 27 years has hopefully left me with a rounded perspective, which I hope I can now share with you to raise some knowledge and awareness.
The time to change campaign goes through a number of myths and facts and the misunderstanding in mental health law remains the fundamental issue, although the awareness campaign names many groups such as Time to Change, Mind, Rethink, Samaritans and many other that have helped in the efforts to break down misinformation in this very important area.
Myth: mental health problems are very rare
Fact: mental health problems affect 1 in 4 people
Myth: people with mental illnesses aren’t able to work
Fact: we all probably work with someone experiencing a mental health problem
The above are just examples of where there can be a lack of knowledge and understanding of the reach of mental health problems and the impact they have. The relevance to young people can also be clouded with misinformation.
Myth: young people do not experience mental health problems.
Fact: 1in 10 young people experience mental health problems at any one time. That is about 3 people in every classroom.
Myth: it is very rare for young people to self harm.
Fact: over the last decade, the number of young people who are admitted to hospital due to injuries relating to self harm has increased. That is partly because there is now a better understanding of what it is and is being recognised easier.
The above illustrates the importance of assistance at any early stage and recognising early warning signs, relapse signatures and a change in behaviours. The charity Sane refers to some of the early warning signs that can be relevant. These include irregular sleep, tearfulness, insomnia, changes in mood and behaviour, difficulty in making decisions, feelings of guilt and emptiness, withdrawal, decreased energy and restlessness. These are just examples and clearly not all embracing. Clearly the importance of talking, sharing and supporting those who have either had historical mental health problems, or those who you feel are encountering mental health problems for the first times remains so important. Support, awareness and openness are fundamental issues.
The Time to Talk campaign have done some excellent work and a Time to Talk day is already set for 7th February 2019. Again, it will be an opportunity to spotlight the issue of mental health and spark a very important and ongoing discussion.
Clearly one of the most tragic consequences of mental health issues is the loss of life and the Samaritans continue to do some amazing, ongoing work raising awareness and supporting individuals in the most difficult of times. The latest statistics indicate that there are over 6600 suicides in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. The highest rates were for men between the age of 40 and 44. The rates for male suicide remain significantly higher than those for females; namely 3 times higher in the UK. The split of figures between male and female suicide is as follows: within the total of 6639, it is 1642 females and 4997 males. It can therefore be seen clearly that the male suicide proportion is significantly higher.
The ongoing work by many organisations on a national basis is invaluable and debunking the myth in the area remains very important going forward. Whatever you can do to support any national campaigns, such as Time to Talk is very beneficial. The final message and conclusion is that the sharing of accurate information in this area remain important and the issue of offering support to those encountering mental health issues, can make a huge difference to their recovery and the prevention of a relapse for individuals. Therefore, do what you can to support individuals and get involved in any of the national campaigns and groups that are doing such valuable work.
About the Author:
Ranjit Thaliwal is a Practising Solicitor at Thaliwal & Veja Solicitors, who specialise in Mental Health Law
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