“People with mental illness need to be hospitalised. They should not be allowed to have children. They are not trustworthy and can’t hold public office or become teachers. They’re unpredictable. They make you feel uncomfortable.”
Shocking statements? Sadly these are the opinions of some people in Wales.
The opinions above were taken from a survey of public attitudes towards mental health carried out by Time2Change Wales. Even in 2016 mental illness is a taboo subject and ignorance of the facts can bring about opinions like the ones above. But there’s lots of good work and organisations out there that are trying to bring about change and make mental health something that people aren’t afraid to talk about.
As today, 10 October, is World Mental Health Day, we decided to look into this topic in more detail. World Mental Health Day is held annually to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world. They set a theme every year and this year’s theme is psychological first aid and supporting other people who are suffering. In this article we’ll look at how you can support others and what Wales is doing to try and tackle this issue.
Mental Health Problems
There are many mental health problems that can affect people, take a look at Mind’s A-Z of mental health problems, but here are some common mental health issues you may have come across:
- Anxiety and panic disorders
- Eating disorders
- Substance misuse and addiction
- Bipolar disorder
Statistics show that a quarter of all people will experience mental health problems in their lives and it is very likely that you, your family or someone you know will suffer. So even if you think that it may not affect you now, it is good to know the facts and be able to be empathetic and understanding when you are faced with mental health issues.
Talk to Me 2, the Welsh Governments suicide and self-harm prevention strategy has some shocking statistics about suicide:
- 300-350 deaths by suicide in Wales every year (three times the number killed in road accidents).
- Up to 19 people in every 100 will have thoughts of suicide at some point in their life.
- Suicide in men is higher in Wales than the UK average
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15-19
Bringing Mental Health Out in the Open
Unfortunately, according to the Big Lottery’s More Than a Number survey (2008) the stigma of mental illness stops people taking up mental health services in rural areas in Wales. Incidences of mental illness and poor mental health are more likely in the most deprived areas of Wales (Together for Mental Health, Welsh Government).
Stigma is one of biggest challenges according to the World Health Organisation and the World Psychiatric Association. So how do we change this? Getting it out in the open and stop making it a taboo subject is a good start. Talking can solve a lot of things, and talking about mental health on a regular basis can only help normalise it and take away some of the stigma. This may help people who were afraid to seek out medical help previously.
Together for Mental Health
The Welsh Government has recognised the need to reduce stigma and improve mental health services in Wales and they produced ‘Together for Mental Health‘ which is their 10 year strategy for improving the lives of people who suffer with mental health and wellbeing. Here are some points taken out from it:
- Communities First will work to increase resilience and take preventative action in the most deprived areas of Wales.
- Ensure good community facilities, people feel safe from crime and not living in noisy overcrowded homes.
- Access to green spaces to reduce stress, encourage relaxation and provide a sense of freedom.
- Encourage sporting activity through Creating an Active Wales to improve mental wellbeing.
- Arts and culture for mental health improvement.
- Schools – education and youth services encouraging healthy lifestyles, social development and preparing young people for their adult lives.
- Improve awareness through access to quality and age appropriate information by working with the Healthy Schools network.
- Greater focus on schemes that support children and their families: Flying Start, Families First, School based counselling service and Integrated Family Support Services.
- Ensure the public develop a better understanding of mental health issues – ensure they have access to good quality information and how to take care of their mental health.
- Tackle negative attitudes in the workplace through the Healthy Working Wales scheme.
- Better information and advice about mental illness in older age – National Dementia Vision Wales has funded information packs through the Alzheimer Society and promotion of the Dementia Helpline and website.
For further details and lots more information about the Welsh Governments mental health strategy for Wales, read ‘Together for Mental Health’ here.
Services in Wales That Can Help
Here’s a round up of some of the services that can help you if you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues:
A free emotional support and guidance service to improve the lives of people affected by mental illness.
- Website: www.sane.org.uk
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/charitySANE
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/CharitySANE
- Helpline: 0300 304 7000 (6pm – 11pm daily)
A website managed by Hafal providing links and information for those suffering with mental illness, their families and carers.
- Website: www.mentalhealthwales.net
The NHS Direct Wales website has a section introducing mental health and the treatment and support options available as well as a list of mental health issues linking to specific pages of information. You can also read up about the different mental health services on this page.
- Website: www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk
- NHS Direct Wales: 0845 4647
Mind works to make sure everyone in Wales has access to mental health information, support and services. They provide mental health care and support in communities across Wales with Local Minds.
- Website: www.mind.org.uk or www.mind.org.uk/about-us/mind-cymru
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/mindforbettermentalhealth
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/mindcharity
- Mind Infoline: 0300 123 3393 (9am – 6pm Monday to Friday)
- Text: 86463
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
A charity for people with serious mental illness and their carers in Wales. Managed by the people they support delivering a range of services to people including direct support and advice, support in a crisis, contact with others by phone, advocacy, support in a group setting, befriending and employment and training projects. Working all over Wales you can see what services they provide in your area and local contact details here.
A charity providing services to people with mental health problems. They have a help and advice section that aims to give a better understanding of mental health issues and information about the projects and services they provide across Wales.
- Website: www.gofal.org.uk
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/GofalCymru?ref=hl
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/gofal_
Samaritans is a service that’s there for people when they feel that things are getting too much, there to help, understand and listen. You don’t have to be suicidal to call. Find local Samaritans branches where it may be possible to speak to someone face to face
- Helpline: 116 123 (24 hours a day, 365 days a year)
- Welsh Language Helpline: 0808 164 0123 (7pm-11pm, 7 days a week)
- E-mail: email@example.com
- Website: www.samaritans.org
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/samaritanscharity
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/samaritans
The information, advice and advocacy helpline for children and young people in Wales. Someone on your side. Children and young people can call, text or chat online about anything that is worrying them and receive help from their trained advocate advisors.
- Helpline: 080880 23456 (8am – midnight, 7 days a week)
- Text: 84001
- Online chat: www.meiccymru.org
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/meic.cymru
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/meiccymru
Mental Health Articles on FamilyPoint
We’ve had quite a few articles and guest blogs on FamilyPoint around the subject of mental health. You may find these articles interesting:
- Postnatal Depression: The Sad Reality
- Winter Blues: Stress, Depression and Keeping Healthy
- Autism and Anxious Behaviour
- Self-Harm: Helpful Reactions As A Parent
- Dementia: Act Now
Want to find out about services available to you and your child in your area? Would you like to chat about family matters in general? Then get in touch with the FamilyPoint Cymru helpline.
- Phone: 0300 222 57 57
- Text: 07860 052 905
- Instant message (see top of page)
We are open 6pm – 10pm Monday to Thursday and 10am – 2pm Friday & Saturday.