Unashamedly Political – Without the Party or Balloons! Wednesday January 11, 2017
Was anyone listening to the news on Monday when Theresa May announced new measures to help people with mental health problems?
She said that Mental Health had been "dangerously disregarded" in comparison to physical health, especially in the young.
Figures show young people are affected disproportionately with over half of mental health problems starting by the age of 14 and 75% by 18.
I can see that in my own family with my fourteen-year-old daughter suffering from stress related eczema and from the stories she brings home about the number of her schoolmates who already self-harm.
"But, Mummy," she says, "You can tell, because they're the girls who always wear their jumpers, even on the hottest days, to hide the scars on their arms." And yes, it is young women who are proportionally most at risk, although it is young men who contribute more to the suicide statistics.
My daughter has been sensible enough to talk to the school nurse, who – from what I gather – spends ninety percent of her time counselling the children and only ten percent applying plasters to grazed knees and sympathy for tummy aches.
She is lucky enough to go to a school where the pastoral care is superb. And to belong to a family where depression, stress and mental illness are openly discussed. Not every young person has this "luxury".
Of course, there is still not enough money to provide the services and provision that is so desperately needed. Last week I met a fellow bipolar sufferer who had recently been released from hospital. He had been taken to the nearest railway station and abandoned there with just £6 in his pocket and nowhere to go. This is not Care in the Community but neglect.
His case is extreme. Many of us manage to cope with our illness. We hold down jobs and run businesses. We contribute to society.
But, can we do more?
Just before Christmas my neighbour, who has recently won her second fight with cancer, held a "Winter Tea Party" on the little green outside our house. We all contributed cakes and raffle prizes, and she raised over £2,000 for the cancer ward at our local hospital.
Everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer. They are willing to help and to give.
Huh! You know what? Everyone knows someone who has been affected by mental illness and depression. But we don't talk about it nearly as much. It's still a big taboo.
So my challenge to us all is to do more to get our illness the attention and funding it needs. Speak up if you can. Be as honest as possible. Educate where you can. Give financially where you can.
If not for ourselves, then for our children, our neighbours' children, our children's children and their children too.
A Moodscope member.
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