As a mental health carer I feel this is one of the most important things that can help build up a stronger relationship between a carer and whoever they help support, although I have not blogged in a while. I having been thinking about this issue and felt the need to post about it.
Ever since the Time To Change campaign on tackling mental health stigma. I have realised how important it is to talk to your caree. I am sure many carers out there do this and try to spend time with who they support or care for, but I feel perhaps it might not be as widespread as I initially thought.
I was at a Time To Talk event yesterday where we heard from Time To Change Champions. Now a Time To Change Champion is a sort of volunteer, but they also do talks, promote events and have gone through or are still going through the mental ill health. I found out several startling facts from the speakers who pointed out that many men under 45 are high on the list of taking their own lives. They almost stated that the south east of London has a very high rate of mental ill health cases, but what most took my attention is a lot of these points could be tackled by just talking about mental health issues.
I am not saying that its going to be easy, because mental health can be a personal issue, but I feel so much can be done by talking about the following
- What is mental health
- What is stigma and discrimination in mental health
- Talking about our mental health to those we trust
- Letting who we care for know we are there for them
- Working together with mental health professionals to tackle the high rate of mental health cases
- Raising awareness in all settings
- Health industry
- Working towards increasing the social capital of those suffering mental health stigma.
- Being honest with ourselves about our mental health.
Mental health and honesty
I am sure I could add more to the list above and some of these mentioned would need some funding, although I have seen so many volunteers working hard to raise awareness. It is also important to mention there are many other mental health and carer organisations working hard to break the stigma by not only talking, but also providing support. I guess what I am trying to say is we are all doing our bit, but there is always more work to be done.
Living in London and realising that mental ill health is so high makes me wonder how many of us are honest about our own mental health. Perhaps it is good to be aware that mental health needs to be tackled, but the problem how we can do what we can in our own way. We need to lessen the rate of mental health problems in London and practically the UK, obviously more will need to be done and the problems of deprivation, social isolation and building stronger communities have to be addressed.
Hearing that young men have a high rate of using the mental health system and also being 3 times more likely to take their own lives states that I should also be honest about my mental health as well as many men out there. We need to know that its ok to talk to someone and being vulnerable is not a weakness. I will point out though that society needs to do their bit as well, because I also feel many young men are not supported enough and many issues are swept under the carpet.
A carers role
As a carer its important to remind those we look after that we care for them. I know this is not going to be easy or even possible for many carers out there, but if we try it can make a lot of difference. The hardest thing I have noticed is that sometimes those suffering mental ill health may not have the capacity or energy to recognise friends and families trying to care. Mental ill health can easily destroy those precious relationships, it breaks bonds, isolates the sufferer and can turn people against each other.
Carer’s, those with lived experience and health professionals can all play their part working together to strengthen the ties of support and recovery. A carer has to try talk to their caree and at the same time avoid labelling their loved one, we can all do our bit.
A change just requires we keep talking.