It’s World Mental Health Day, a day recognised by the World Health Organisation on 10th October each year to raise awareness of mental health issues and highlight the support available to those struggling with own their mental health.
On World Mental Health Day, I thought I’d share a selection of quotes from some of the people we’ve met along the way who have faced their own mental health challenges and have been supported by some of the charities and social enterprises we’ve worked with in the hope that they provide a little reassurance, inspiration or realisation that it’s OK to talk about mental health.
“I force myself to get out of the house every day; pop to the shops, pop for a coffee, anything to keep the depression at bay.”
– an older person supported by Thanet Community Support Partnership; many of the older people we interviewed struggled with their mental health as a consequence of becoming socially isolated and less independent and physically mobile. TCSP, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, provides ongoing support and social opportunities designed to improve confidence and reduce isolation.
“Without the help and support of TDE I would have probably given up. It’s been difficult… coping with depression caused by an organisation that should know better. I’ve realised that no matter how big the organisation is, the law is the law and we should never be afraid to challenge (discrimination).”
– a client supported by Tackling Discrimination in the East, a Big Lottery Fund project by ISCRE which provides legal advice for people facing unlawful discrimination at work or when accessing public services. A number of people we interviewed had experienced discrimination, including being dismissed, after revealing their mental health challenges to their employer.
“When you have a hearing impairment, sometimes the loneliest place on earth is a room full of people. When I was teaching we had an end of term party and I couldn’t hear anyone. My confidence shrank to an invisible amount and I shut myself in a cupboard and vowed I would never go in the staff room again.”
– a person supported by the Hearing Support Service, run by Norfolk Deaf Association. A number of people we interviewed described how hearing loss had impacted on their mental health, often by becoming depressed or increasing their feelings of isolation.
“Without Home-Start, I wouldn’t be as confident as I am now and I wouldn’t do as much with the children. I suffer from anxiety and depression and my Family Support Worker could see I wasn’t coping.
She referred me to Home-Start and the volunteer was lovely, she gave excellent advice about the children’s behaviour and how to keep them busy so they were tired at bedtime. Within weeks, my anxiety levels had gone right down and I felt more positive.”
– our final quote is from a mum supported by the Home-Start Suffolk consortium. We’ve worked with a number of Home-Start schemes around the UK and parents often describe how Home-Start support has helped them to overcome anxiety, isolation, low self-esteem, post-natal depression and a wide range of other mental health issues.
The truth is, none of us are immune to mental health challenges and, whilst it’s not always easy, it’s OK to ask for help. The national charity MIND lists a number of helplines on it’s website here.