With today being Time to Talk Day, a national day for encouraging people to talk more about their mental health, Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub takes the opportunity to look at where progress has been made and where progress still needs to be made regarding talking about our mental health.
Time to Talk Day (Thursday 6 February 2020) is a campaign of See Me Scotland and has the aim of tackling mental health stigma and discrimination in society. Now in its 20th year, hundreds of workplaces, schools, universities, sports clubs, charities and other groups are holding events on this day to get people talking about mental health.
WHERE HAS PROGRESS BEEN MADE?
Since the See Me Scotland programme was launched in 2002, it can be observed that real progress has been made in respect of breaking down a number of barriers in relation to mental health not being something that is not openly talked about.
In particular, there has been a shift in attitude in terms of talking about issues such as depression, suicide prevention, anxiety and panic disorders and stress disorders. With the pressures and busyness of modern life, mental health difficulties are being acknowledged and diagnosed more than ever. Working together, initiatives such as See Me Scotland, the medical profession, mainstream media and communities at large have helped to begin to portray the positive message that ‘it’s okay not to be okay’ and that it’s important to talk to someone if you are finding it difficult to cope mentally.
Today, thankfully there are many services and programmes available free of charge which can help people experiencing clinical depression and related problems. Some of these services and relevant contact information are listed below for information.
WHAT AREAS OF MENTAL HEALTH ARE WE STILL NOT TALKING ABOUT?
With recognised strides forward being made over the last two decades in areas relating to talking about depression, stress and anxiety, Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub is keen to highlight on Time to Talk Day that there are still other particular ‘taboo’ conditions and areas of mental health which society still finds difficult to understand and openly discuss. In this respect, it is crucial that action is taken and progress is made in these areas.
When encouraging people to talk about mental health, it should not be forgotten that we are not only talking about the fore-mentioned areas which we automatically tend to associate with. There are many less common and less understood mental health conditions which it is time to start talking more openly about and removing stigmas.
One such condition is schizophrenia. Even today, when we have made such progress in talking about many areas of mental health, the word schizophrenia is still misunderstood and scary for many. On television and in movies, characters with schizophrenia often act bizarrely or are portrayed as psycho killers.
Schizophrenia is in actual fact is a serious mental health disorder, and the truth is that people with schizophrenia rarely injure or harm another person. The condition may result in hallucinations, delusions and extremely disordered thinking and behaviour which impairs daily functioning. It can be very disabling and people with schizophrenia require lifelong treatment. Around 1 in 100 people in the UK have lifetime prevalence of schizophrenia or schizophrenia-related disorders.
The condition can be frightening for many of us to address or talk about, sometimes because we have a misconception of what it is and sometimes because it seems like something we can’t possibly relate to. Whilst that can be understandable, on Time to Talk Day there are barriers in relation to schizophrenia which we can start to break down.
One thing to remember is that schizophrenia doesn’t define a person, it’s just something they have. It’s important to be respectful when talking about this or any other mental health condition, and for us to work together to rid society of the hurtful way in which people with the disorder are often addressed. Some people wrongly still label those with schizophrenia as a ‘psycho’ or being ‘crazy’.
The reality is that people with schizophrenia have a mental health illness, and like those with other mental health illnesses are often feeling isolated, rejected and in need of the right treatment, support and understanding. So if you know someone with schizophrenia, maybe you could help them by asking them if they are okay talking about it with you. Maybe you could ask them to help you understand what they are going through and how you can support or help them.
Another mental health condition that we still tend to shy away from talking openly about is bipolar disorder. This is a disorder in which a person’s mood can swing from one extreme to another. It was previously known as manic depression, and involves those affected having episodes of clinical depression at times and at other times having episodes of mania, where they feel high and overactive.
It can sometimes be difficult for us to understand why another person’s behaviours and emotions can be so different from one time to another, and this can often lead to strained relationships. But it’s important to remember that in bipolar disorder, this is part of the disorder and it’s vital to try to be as supportive, understanding, patient and compassionate as possible.
The good news is that most people with bipolar disorder can stabilise their mood with proper medication, and support. By educating and talking more about bipolar disorder, more people can be diagnosed and get the treatment they need, and those with a diagnosis will feel less isolated and misunderstood.
Indeed, it’s not just schizophrenia and bipolar disorder that we need to get talking more about. There are many other mental health conditions, disorders and illnesses which are still not well understood, have harmful myths about and are not talked about as openly as they should be in 2020. These include Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), personality disorders, a range of eating disorders, many forms of dementia and various different types of phobias.
So, on Time to Talk Day, the message is for the people of Cumbernauld is – let’s start being more open and inclusive and talk about ALL forms of mental health, including elements and disorders which can be frightening or mysterious for us to address or understand. Then, as a community, we can take the next step forward in breaking down mental health stigmas and discrimination.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an area of their mental health right now, NHS 24 can be contacted at any time of the day or night by telephoning 111 free of charge.
You can help Time to Talk Day become the most talked about subject in the UK on social media today using #TimeToTalk.
Free Services Supporting People Facing Mental Health Challenges
Anxiety UK – Charity providing support if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety condition. Telephone the organisation on 03444 775 774 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5.30pm) or visit their website at www.anxietyuk.org.uk.
Bipolar UK – A charity helping people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder. Visit their website at www.bipolaruk.org.uk.
CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15 to 35. Contact the organisation on 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm to midnight) or visit them online at www.thecalmzone.net.
Men’s Health Forum – This is a 24/7 stress support service for men by text, chat and email. Visit their website at www.menshealthforum.org.uk.
Mental Health Foundation – Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities. Their website is www.mentalhealth.org.uk.
Mind – Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems. For more, please contact 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm), or visit www.mind.org.uk.
No Panic – A charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Offers a course to help overcome phobias or OCD. Their telephone number is 0844 967 4848 (daily, 10am to 10pm), and website is www.nopanic.org.uk.
OCD Action – Support for people with OCD. Includes information on treatment and online resources. Their contact number is 0845 390 6232 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5pm), and their website is www.ocdaction.org.uk.
OCD UK – A charity run by people with OCD, for people with OCD. Includes facts, news and treatments. The organisation can be contacted on 0845 120 3778 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm), or online at www.ocduk.org.
PAPYRUS – Young suicide prevention society. The HOPElineUK number is 0800 068 4141 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm and 7pm to 10pm, and 2pm to 5pm on weekends), and their website is www.papyrus-uk.org.
Rethink Mental Illness – Support and advice for people living with mental illness. Their telephone number is 0300 5000 927 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm), ánd website is www.rethink.org.
Samaritans – Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair. Contact them on 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline), or visit www.samaritans.org for support.
SANE – Emotional support, information and guidance for people affected by mental illness, their families and carers. The SANEline contact number is 0300 304 7000 (daily, 4.30pm to 10.30pm), and a textcare service is also available by visiting www.sane.org.uk/textcare. A peer support form can be accessed at www.sane.org.uk/supportforum.
Well-informed – A mental health service signposting service specifically for the Lanarkshire area. The Well-informed helpline number is 0800 073 0918 and email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Furthermore, a range of local mental health resources can be accessed by visiting the Elament website at www.elament.org.uk.
YoungMinds – Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services are provided for parents and professionals. The Parents helpine can be contacted on 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm), and the organisation can be visited online at www.youngminds.org.uk.