Tuesday, 9 October 2012

World Mental Health Day Part 2

How do you challenge people's myths about mental illness? Education is one way, and personal experience is another. Challenging the many myths about mental illness can be a good way to get people thinking and talking...

Here are many of the myths commonly stated about mental illness, and underneath, the reality of that myth.

Myth: Some people with mental illness never recover. Reality: Some people with mental illness can and do recover. Others cannot. It depends on the severity of the illness.

Myth: People with mental illnesses are either dangerous, violent and unpredictable. Reality: People with mental illness are more likely to be a victim of violence. Of course some are violent, but then so are members of the non-mentally ill people. They aren't any more violent than any other group of people.

Myth: It's best to leave people alone if they develop a mental health problem. Reality: Most people with mental health problems want to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues, it can be a great help in their recovery.

Myth: People aren't discriminated against because of mental health problems. Reality: Nine out of ten people with mental health problems widespread experience stigma and discrimination.

Myth: Mental Health problems are the same as General Learning Disabilities. Reality: They are two seperate conditions. General Learning Disabilities are pervasive and affect one's ability to learn, comprehend and take in new information. The majority of people with Mental Health problems don't suffer such problems. Some people with Mental Health problems are capable of going to University or higher education with the right support, though that said, some people with General Learning Disabilities can, and do, suffer from mental health problems.

Myth: Mental Health problems never occur in children. Reality: Conditions such as Schizophrenia, Bipolar usually develops and starts at some point between the ages of 16 and the mid 20's, but depression, anxiety and OCD can occur in children at ages under 16. About 10% of children have a mental health problem at any one time. So never say to a young person "Depression? Depression? at your age? Depression? You shouldn't know what it means.. you should be out there, having the time of your life". As if it discriminates with age either.

Myth: People with Schizophrenia have split personalities or two personalities. Reality: People with Schizophrenia frequently experience delusions of grandeur or persecution, auditory or visual hallucinations, thought disorder, and loss of interest in life. The split is a split from reality.

Other information about mental health shows that: 1) Suicides rates show that British men are three times as likely to die by suicide than British women. 2) Self-harm statistics for the UK show one of the highest rates in Europe: 400 per 100,000 population. 3) Mental health problems cost the country an estimated £77billion a year in healthcare, benefits and lost productivity. 4) Fewer than four in ten employers would consider employing someone with a history of mental health problems, compared to more than six in ten for candidates with physical disability. 5) Only about 20% of people with severe mental health problems and around 50% of those with less serious problems are in paid employment, yet 80% want to work. 6) People with serious mental health problems die on average 10 years younger than other people. This is because of the greater risk of physical health problems and poorer access to healthcare. 7) Most people say they would not want anyone to know if they developed a mental illness.

There could well be a correlation between levels of mental illness and physical ill health, regarding how affluent an area is. Levels of mental health could be lower, for example, in areas such as Kensington and Chelsea, (Where the life expectancy is the highest in the UK), Alderley Edge, or Harpenden, than in areas which have high unemployment, deprivation and poverty, and associated social problems of drug addiction and crime.

On a personal level, I have suffered from anxiety, and it has plagued me all my life, but it depends on where I am if I suffer from it. In some situations I suffer from it. In others I don't. One of my Secondary School reports stated that I was "Very nervous". Another said I had "No confidence". I am not a confident person in social situations but I am if I feel strongly on a subject or issue or if I know about something. wouldn't, alternatively, get anxious if speaking to an audience about my condition. I take the view that it is structured. I am talking about what I want to. There aren't going to be random comments or remarks thrown up by others, and in situations like that it is like "I am here... you are there. You have got your space and I have got mine".

I get anxious when a lot of people are around me at once, or if I am in a social situation like that, as well as mentally overloaded and confused. Other situations which bring on anxiety are when I go to new places, beforehand. However, once I am settled in, I usually am fine, if I feel comfortable.

I don't make friends with people easily but the friendships I do develop tend to be close and long-lasting. That said, anything or anyone that threatens to disrupt the stability and equilibrium of my life is out and I won't bat an eyelid in doing so.

My anxiety is also demonstrated when I walk up and down repeatedly, talk or mutter to myself, rubbmy hair or shake my legs or tap my feet or fiddle with my belt or talk a great deal very quickly. I have chewed pens and pencils since I was 4 years old. I also get anxious if I am meeting someone and they turn up late without contacting me to tell me why they are going to be late or to let me know beforehand that they are going to be late. I get anxious and agitated when I am late for something, because I feel like I am letting the person down who I have arranged to meet, particularly if there is no way of contacting them.

Mental Health has also affected one or two of my family members in the past. Nobody to my knowledge has suffered from a Psychotic mental illness in my family but my Grandmother's (on my mum's side) Great-Grandfather, William Burrows, died of a heart attack whilst in Wadsley Lunatic Asylum on 27th May 1910, aged 76. Problems with nerves occurred with my dad's dad, who died in January 1992, and one or two members of my dad's side of the family.

It was suggested that I could be Schizophrenic when I was awaiting my diagnosis. I should have said that I am not Schizophrenic because I hear voices telling me I am not.

So, tomorrow, if you get the time or chance, think of people suffering from mental health problems, and if you have the time, maybe sit down and learn about them. Maybe if you do have prejudices against mental illness or people suffering from it, you could read about it in greater detail. As stated, one day they could affect the life of a close family member, your children, your parents, a close friend, or yourself.


Anonymous Anxiety relief tips said...

Very good text and tips between the lines.

23 October 2012 at 10:03  

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