World Mental Health Day 2016

Knowing the value of good mental health after having experienced the disruptive force of losing it, is a great reason to keep the relevance of World  Mental Health Day, October 10th, in mind.

wmh2016

 

My experience with acute distress which led to diagnosis and treatment I’m now pleased, and proud to say is well behind me.

Each year that World Mental Health Day  comes round I find time to reflect on that experience 16 years ago, and how it changed my life and also just how far, despite it’s residual effects, I’ve come.

I feel compelled annually to both reflect and contribute a written piece as witness to the value of good support, and attest to the value of  effective listeners and friends, when  one’s own emotional reserves may need ‘patching up’.

The theme of this years World Mental Health Day is two-fold,

Dignity and psychological first aid

Maintaining dignity after experiencing breakdown or trauma isn’t always easy but it’s an aspect of self-worth that’s important to strive for. It’s that inner core of being which aids us regain our sense of self when things get emotionally blurred, or practically chaotic, reminding us,

‘you do deserve to be well and have peace of mind’.

Dignity itself acts like first-aid, it can help people not to be cowed by negative or traumatic experiences.

The World Federation of Mental Health who are responsible for World Mental Health Day say that psychological first aid is primarily,

‘A humanitarian and appropriate response during times of mental health crisis’,

 

the WFMH also acknowledge that it not always situations of crisis which precipitate the need for psychological first aid.

Stress factors that occur either as a result of everyday pressures and mishaps that befall all, the more extreme aspects of mental illness that affect some, and pertinent to this years theme those global issues where major trauma , such as war displaces people from their loved ones and homes.

Some can be alleviated, their effects possibly reduced through particular interventions, the World Health Organisation have an extensive and excellent  report on proposed ways it can be addressed.

As respects individual mental trauma, professionals are the obvious first-aiders when its extreme or acute forms disrupt wellbeing, however it is also good to see WFMH acknowledge that telling our personal stories, related in informal ways, can also act as triage.

With that in mind they are encouraging people to share their own ways of coping with trauma and as an aid to manage their own incidence of trauma. They also give credit to the contribution of non-professionals who come to the aid of those who’s good mental health is disrupted.

On or around  World Mental Health Day,  people are asked to consider getting together with friends or family for ‘tea and talk’ and to use the occasion to consider making a donation to the Mental Health Foundation.

Making time for someone in distress so they can talk through it is a quick, low cost act of first-aid simply but effectively applied.

Put that kettle on! tea-and-talk-logo

Keep your conversations about ways to positive mental wellbeing fresh.

Finding effective personal strategies or accessing relevant available resouces can be a challenge, epecially if ongoing emotional/mental distress sometimes dints your dignity.

May World Mental Health Day find you with your dignity intact.

Sue Margaret

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World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day is on this coming Friday, the 10th of October. The focus nationally this year is on ‘Living with Schizophrenia’. Throughout the week a variety of groups in Leeds will be doing their bit to raise awareness of ways to improve understanding of mental health issues generally, and about ways to wellbeing for those living with the experience of mental distress.

The third sector organisation Volition will be hosting a celebratory event on  World Mental Health Day itself. from 11 a.m to 3.00 at the Civic Hall in Leeds. This event is jointly organised by Leeds City Council’s, Adult Social Care, Time to Change Leeds and others. That such events are an annual occurrence, when people with lived experience, the public and related organisations can come together to speak openly about mental illness, is a cause for celebration. One aim of this event is a quest for conversation starters, and to help bust stigma, indeed having experience of mental illness is no reason for shame or stigma. Those of us with lived experience of mental distress can be proud of the ways we strive to grapple with symptoms. Our willingness and forthrightness in speaking  out about our experiences can aid others wellbeing.

As we approach the day it is useful to also reflect on this years highlighted theme, ‘Living with Schizophrenia’. What is the impact on individuals who’s symptoms lead to this diagnosis, on those who love and support them and the wider community?

We might also like to consider the Government’s recent report on public mental health, in which the Chief Medical Officer of Health states a commitment to the need for change in addressing stigma. In addition the report also highlights  the need to improve support for people who have lived experience of distressed mental health, to retain or find work. The aforementioned aims are worthy and do require ongoing attention, however as the following excellent article by Mark Gamsu points out, many of the causes of poor mental health are directly attributable to social inequality, the profile of health inequalitiies needs raising. Additionally the article highlights the need for wellbeing initiatives that have already proven effective to be retained, not curtailed.

You are welcome to join in or start a conversation about ways to maintain good mental health.

Sue Margaret

Piece of cake? -10th October

image by cakepicturegallery.com

World Mental Health day, this year has as it’s theme the ‘older person’, in Leeds the advocacy organisation A4MHD have with the help of older people with lived experience of  mental health issues, produced a work of art,  it is a giant 7 tiered cake, …turn up on the 10th October at 1.30pm in Albion Place to see what the cake really looks like, (this is a borrowed internet image), the cake will then be cut and shared with passers by.

image by sweetcraving.com

 Most of us know that too many sweet things probably aren’t healthy for us, but on special occasions, a treat, and comfort food.

Making cakes is very satisfying, and an interest in home style baking  is on the increase, a fashion for all things vintage has led to many themed tea rooms, where you can take a trip down memory lane, and eat a bun or two! There is some evidence that the process of baking has  therapeutic outcomes for people with dementia, perhaps it re-awakens those practical things people of a ‘certain age’ learned rote fashion, creamed cake method, …half fat to flour, for short crust pastry, the ‘rubbed in’ method and of course the pleasure of finger licking any remaining mixture in the bowl, icing and eating the finished result.

The extent of the problem of Dementia will also be recognised on the 10th of October, by The Centre for Research in to Reading and the Reader Organisation their statistics indicate there are

“over 800,000 people in the UK live with dementia, and an estimated 670,000 with family and friends acting as primary carers”

they will discuss and consider the power of reading aloud in groups as an aid to improving quality of life for sufferers and carers alike.

World Mental Health Day takes place each year on the 10th October, and can serve as a reminder how extensive mental health problems are,  and yet how it’s often the simple things. like being enabled to  access pleasant memories, or pursuing simple pastimes  such as baking, reading that make the difference to the lives of those affected.

Su