One in Four People Will Experience a Mental Health Problem This Year, Let’s End the Stigma.

 

Mental health and wellbeing are important for everyone, but it still isn’t openly talked about enough leaving many people feeling worthless. Around 1 in 8 adults are currently receiving treatment for a mental health problem, it’s time to get talking.  Time to Talk Day, created by Time to Change, is happening on Thursday 6th February encouraging conversation around mental health and end discrimination.  Ask yourself, do you know how to start a discussion on mental health?

Who is Time to Change?

Time to Change, started in 2007, is a social movement changing how we think and act about mental health, working with local organisations, schools and Time to Change champions. It is led by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund. There has been an estimated 13% improvement in attitudes towards mental health since the movement began. Their aim is to continue to change how millions perceive mental health in the long term.

What Do the Statistics Say?

Around 80% of people in the UK experience mental health symptoms 300 out of 365 days. Mental illness accounts for one-fifth of all NHS activity, yet only 11% of overall funding was allocated to mental health trusts. A 34% increase in detentions under the Mental Health Act, since 2006, has seen many detained multiple times and sent home early due to available beds.

In England 2018, 70.9 million antidepressants prescriptions were dispensed, doubling in a ten-year period. People who have had mental health problems, 9 out of 10 stated they suffered stigma and discrimination.

A survey found 4 in 10 people often don’t feel like themselves, however 70% would be prevented from getting help for a mental health problem, 13% preferring for it to pass on its own. But 60% said speaking about their mental health made them feel better.

The Misconceptions Around Mental Health

Mental health misconceptions have caused 13 million people to delay getting help, it’s a myth that mental health problems are rare they affect 1 in 4 of us. This means you will be or will know someone experiencing mental health problems, despite this 60% of people can’t identify symptoms of the most common mental health conditions.

The symptoms of depression are recognisable to 90% of people, yet 86% of people don’t know the symptoms of bipolar. OCD (78%) and PTSD (56%) are the second and third most misunderstood mental health conditions, it’s commonly believed that OCD is about liking things neat and PTSD involves being violent. Someone experiencing mental health problems are in fact, more likely to be a victim of violence than inflict it.

Another myth is that you can’t recover from mental health problems and people with mental health conditions ‘spend more time at home’, many still work, have families and lead full lives. There are lots of ways to support someone with a mental health problem, always treat them as you always have, ask how they are, ask again and listen.

Talking About Mental Health

When discussing mental health problems, respect the individual and how they define their experiences, whether they reject all labels or acknowledge a medical diagnosis. Think about how what you say can make people feel, before speaking.

Pablo Vandenabeele, Clinical Director for Mental Health at Bupa UK says:

“If terms for mental health are regularly being used in a negative way, it can make it more difficult for someone to feel comfortable having an honest and important conversation about their condition.”

Schizophrenic, psychotic and special needs are the three most offensive terms used outside the correct context. Using terms out of context and the way we speak about people feeds into harmful mental health stereotypes, such as describing yourself as ‘depressed’ when you’re upset.

Time to Change guidelines make it clear, it’s unacceptable to call someone ‘lunatic’, ‘nutter’, ‘unhinged’, ‘maniac’, ‘mad’, ‘a victim’, ‘a sufferer’ or ‘the afflicted’. They are someone who ‘is currently experiencing’, ‘is being treated for…’, ‘has a diagnosis of’.

Don’t say ‘the mentally ill’ or describe those in psychiatric hospitals as ‘prisoners’ or ‘inmates’. They are ‘patients’, ‘service users’ or ‘clients’.  An individual is not ‘released’ from a hospital, they are ‘discharged’. Nor does someone take ‘happy pills’, it’s ‘antidepressants’, ‘medication’ or ‘prescription drugs’. The better awareness, the fewer barriers to accessing help.

Tips for Talking

There’s no one right way to talk about mental health, it doesn’t have to be awkward and should feel natural. Talking about mental health problems doesn’t make you more likely to experience them.

It’s Not About Perfection

Conversations around mental health should be in a place and at a time that feels normal to you, there’s no set criteria on how to do it right. Sometimes it’s less daunting to talk side by side, while doing something else like driving, walking or cooking. If it feels easier to talk via text or email do it that way, it will be more difficult without social cues to know how someone really is.

Ask and Pay Attention

People say they’re fine when they’re not, always ask and ask again whether you’re face-to-face or not. Ask open questions and don’t lead them into anything, if they don’t want to talk that’s ok. Asking shows you’ll be there when they’re ready, to listen and share your own experiences. Avoid asking for specific details, unless they mention it. It’s not an exact science, it’s important just to be open and honest.

Time for Contemplation

It might feel strange to openly talk about your feelings but knowing someone is listening makes all the difference. Show you’re listening and grateful for them speaking to you with a “thanks for telling me” or something similar.

Share How You Feel

Even if you haven’t experienced a mental health problem, show you’re happy to be open and talk about your feelings. It’ll be appreciated, even if it’s talking about something that has worried you that day.

They’re Not a Different Person

Someone experiencing a mental health problem is not a different person to who they were before, don’t treat them like it. It’s not your responsibility to ‘cure’ them, managing or recovering from mental health problems can be a long journey, don’t expect an immediate change.

Talking is not the only way to help, you can do things together like help with their weekly shop or sending a text, so they know you’re thinking of them.

Get Well-Informed

Do some research, see Mind’s guide on seeking help and Rethink Mental Illness’ advice on what to do in a crisis. Also, take the Time to Change mental health quiz to see how much you know about mental health or read personal stories of similar experiences.

Improving Mental Wellbeing

Mental wellbeing can change from one day to the next, it’s not about feeling happy all the time but being able to show a range of emotions and cope with challenges of day-to-day life. Everyone experiences times of low mental wellbeing, but the factors that influence it will always different. Anyone, whether you are experiencing a mental health condition or not, can check-in and take steps to improve their mental wellbeing. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to immediately make you feel better, it’s more often small things that help whether in an hour, a day, week or year.

Think About You

In the juggling act of life between friends, family and work, we often forget about ourselves and the need for me-time. Being able to acknowledge how you feel and when you need time alone is key to good mental wellbeing. Take time to do something you enjoy, like going to see a film you’ve been meaning to get to or have a bath. Seek further help and support if you need it.

Recognise What Lifts Your Mood

Do something that you know boosts your mood, you don’t even have to be good at it. If you like singing or dancing, even if it’s just you, your hairbrush and a mirror then do it! Set small goals so you remember to do what you enjoy every day, like learning all the lines to a new song, it all goes towards better mental wellbeing.

Be Able to Say No

Listen to your body and mind, when you don’t want to do something you don’t have to. It’s ok to say no for the sake of self-care and your mental wellbeing.

Make a Routine and Stick to it

Try getting yourself into a routine, such as going to and getting out of bed at the same time every day. Having a plan for your day can make it much easier to go about it.

Acknowledge the Unpredictability of Life

It’s also important to accept that as much as you can plan, life will throw curveballs. Going with the flow isn’t always easy, think about every day individually and cross each bridge as you come to it.

Find the Exercise That Works for You

Exercise can help your self-esteem, improve your mood and mental wellbeing. Go for a walk around the park, dust off your bike or book a dance class. Not everyone has to run a marathon, start small, find something you enjoy and suits your routine.

If you have a disability or long-term health condition, the NHS has guidance on getting active.

Bring Learning into Your Life

Learning builds self-confidence and a sense of purpose, there should be no pressure or formality. It doesn’t have to be learning a new skill, read a book you wouldn’t normally look twice at or fix the garden gate you’ve been meaning to get to for ages. If you don’t like it, set it down and move on to something you might enjoy more.

Check Your Posture

A positive posture with your head held high and shoulders back makes you more likely to experience good moods and a negative posture will have the opposite effect.

Sleep is Not Just for the Weak

Without enough sleep, you’re more likely to experience low mental wellbeing. Avoid anything that’s overstimulating at night, like watching television or using your laptop. Keep your phone out of reach or in another room. If you’re experiencing mental health problems and finding it difficult to sleep or you’re finding it difficult and don’t know why, seek help.

Procrastination Could Be the Enemy

Procrastination can have a detrimental effect on both productivity and mental wellbeing. It is often as a result of avoiding the problem, leading to self-blame. Take a break, do something you enjoy and then go back to the task with a more positive attitude.

Watch your Digital Usage

Social media can be a great way to find someone with similar mental health experiences, but technology can also overstimulate us and be harmful to our moods. The problem lies in how we use it, have a mini digital detox every week, even if it’s just for a few hours. Don’t feel bad about unfollowing people who give you negative feelings. It should be you finding the content not the content overloading you, so switch off your notifications too.

Multitasking Is Not as Efficient as It Seems

Multitasking might seem like the best way to get everything done quicker but juggling a lot of tasks can make you less productive and increase stress. Concentrate on one task at a time, it will help you be more present.

Ever the Optimist

Optimism is about not smiling constantly and ignoring life’s challenges, it means not blaming yourself for obstacles and learning from them. Start small and build, write down positive experiences from each day whether it’s a good score on a quiz or you found a deal at the supermarket, it all counts.

Shed Some Light

Sunlight can improve our mood, triggering the release of hormones in our brain to give the feeling of calm. Catch some rays, when you can but protect your skin and eyes. Lightboxes can mimic sunlight during the winter.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is all to do with staying in the moment with your thoughts, feelings, body and what’s happening around you. It is meant to help you understand yourself and eliminate too much internal deliberating. Mindfulness can be practised anywhere, whether you make it part of your routine or just want to give it a go while you’re commuting.

Understand What You Need

Tell your friends and family what support you need, whether it’s just listening or helping you learn a new skill. It may help to keep a mood diary, to better recognise your individual signs that you’re experiencing low mental wellbeing.

Invest in Other People

We, humans, are social by nature, good relationships and caring for others generates a sense of value and self-worth. Saying hello to a neighbour and asking how they are, volunteering in your local community or joining a peer support group to meet people with similar interests are all positive experiences for our mental wellbeing.

Ask for Help

One of the main things in ensuring good mental wellbeing is acknowledging when you don’t feel you’re best and when you need help. Speak to your family, friends or GP if you need support.

For Support and Information

 

Time to Change

Website: https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/about-us/frequently-asked-questions/contact-us

General Enquiries: info@time-to-change.org.uk or 020 8215 2356

Time to Change cannot offer individual advice, information or support for you or someone else. Visit their page for direction to more mental health help and support services.

 

Mind

Website: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helplines/

Telephone: 0300 123 3393

Email: info@mind.org.uk

Text: 86463

Mind’s Infoline provides an information and signposting service, open 9am-6pm Monday to Friday (Except bank holidays).

Rethink Mental Illness

Website: https://www.rethink.org/aboutus/what-we-do/advice-and-information-service/

Telephone: 0300 5000 927 (Advice service open 9:30am to 4pm Monday to Friday)

Web chat: Between 10am and 1pm Monday to Friday you can chat with a member of the Rethink Mental Illness team via the website.

Email: advice@rethink.org

Rethink Mental Illness offers advice, information and practical help on a wide range of topics from the Mental Health Act to welfare benefits and living with mental illness.

Elefriends

Website: https://www.elefriends.org.uk/

Elefriends is a supportive online community managed by Mind where you can be yourself. It’s a safe place to listen, share and be heard. Elefriends don’t just get help, they can give help too in both good times and bad. It is for people over 18. Moderators are available between 6am-9am and 10am-2am 7 days a week.

Samaritans

Website: https://www.samaritans.org/wales/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/

Telephone: 116 123 (24 hours a day, 365 days a year) It is free to call.

Email: jo@samaritans.org (response time: 24 hours)

If you need someone to talk to, the Samaritans listen. They don’t judge or tell you what to do. Contacting them is free. They are contacted for all kinds of concerns, whether it’s new or something you’ve been experiencing for a long time, they’re there to provide support.

SANEline

Website: http://www.sane.org.uk/what_we_do/support/helpline

Telephone: 0300 304 7000 (open every day of the year from 4:30pm to 10:30pm)

SANEline is a national out-of-hours mental health helpline that offers specialist emotional support, guidance and information to anyone affected by mental illness, including family, friends and carers. It is a confidential service for those aged 16 or over.

 

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