It’s been a long time since I last shared a Headspace blog – anonymous posts written by friends to raise awareness of mental health to get us thinking. I’ve got a few more in the pipeline but I’m starting with something a bit different. It’s great to see conversations about mental health becoming normal – but despite the huge impact that this can have, it’s important to remember that there is a difference between mental health (anxiety/depression) and mental illness, which can have an even greater impact. People living with mental illness can face even bigger barriers to engaging with society – and so as we work together to try and build a better and more inclusive world we need to make sure that we aren’t leaving them out of the equation.
Moving beyond Mental Health
The views discussed are wholly my own and do not represent NHS Scotland.
This piece has taken me a long time to write, with several different pages being written and deleted. I want to write something about the current conversations about mental health but somehow can’t find the right words to accurately convey how I feel without writing long winding paragraphs that actually don’t say anything at all.
So here goes and here’s hoping I make sense!
I work as mental health nurse in an acute psychiatric ward in Scotland. Most people when they find out what do, have lots of questions about what I do. In all honesty what I do varies from day to day but the basic principle is to look after people who are in acute crisis due to their mental health. Sometimes people come in after making an attempt on their life. Sometimes its because people have become manic and need somewhere safe so that they don’t damage their lives. Sometimes it’s because people are experiencing a psychotic episode and again need a safe place to be whilst medication and talking can help reduce their psychosis.
My day can consist of talking to people who are in the depths of depression and the only way they can see things becoming better is to end their life, sometimes it’s a discussion with a young person and trying to help them work out how to help manage the chaos that has dominated their lives.
One common thing that these people usually discuss is a feeling of having nobody to talk to, no one who’ll understand and no-one they can turn to.
These are the people who seem to be on the periphery in the conversations about mental health.
The conversations that are blooming about mental health are wonderful, with more blogs (such as the wonderful one written by Antony), celebrities coming out with their own stories, charity campaigns moving into the mainstream and many more ways.
However it feels like these conversations don’t always include everyone. And I would like to see that change. I would like to see conversations about psychosis and what it can mean for people, what the highs of mania feels like and how to support someone going through that. Conversations about personality disorders and better understanding of how they can affect daily life to the point where chaos is the ruling force. Conversations about suicide attempts and if someone has taken three overdoses in a week how can we support them.
These are the extreme cases, but these situations are all real. And they are for the most part ignored by mainstream society, and by that the stigma continues.
This may all sound preachy, but I promise that’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to advocate for the people in my care, to make their lives even a tiny bit better by asking everyone to widen the talks about mental health and include everyone in the conversation.
Thank you for taking the time to read this 😊
Samaritans (24hrs a day) – 116 123
Anxiety UK (Monday – Friday 9:30am – 5:30pm) – 0344 775 774
Mind (Monday – Friday 9am – 6pm) – 0300 123 3393
www.mind.org.uk – this is a fantastic resources for anyone wanting to find out more about mental health conditions.