06 July 2020
Crystal Leonard, shares her personal experience of mental health, highlighting how just talking more about it could save lives.
Mental Health – It’s a topic we have all heard about, some of us have even been affected by it, whether personally or through a friend or family. However, do you really understand how serious it can be?
In the UK alone, there is 16 million people who suffer from mental health. Broken down, this is one in four people who will experience a mental health problem every year. Take a look around…how many people have you spoken to or seen today…more than four? That means it’s likely one of those people has experienced a mental health problem. Shocking statistic, I know.
Anyone can experience mental health problems, men, women and even children. Yes, that’s right, over half of all mental illness begins at the age of 14 with depression being the third leading cause of mental illness in young people.
Unlike other illnesses, mental health issues can’t always be seen. In fact, it’s more likely that the people you least expect are encountering mental health issues. It’s so important to have a mental health awareness week so we can build up awareness and help people be more aware of how we can support each other.
I have a very close member of my family who was diagnosed with depression. Before he decided to go and get help, he kept his feelings bottled up, thinking that sharing anything he was feeling would put pressure on his loved ones. He didn’t realise what a big impact it was having on all the family by not telling us. Whilst he felt alone, overwhelmed and consumed by a dark cloud, we all worried about him, knowing full well he wasn’t himself.
It wasn’t until one night, when he couldn’t take anymore, that he attempted to take his own life. In his words, he explained: “Even though I knew I had family and friends, my problems were becoming so overwhelming, that I thought I would help myself and everyone I know by just ending it”. It wasn’t until we all sat down and spoke about everything he was experiencing, that we fully understood why he tried to do what he did. He genuinely didn’t realise how much him not being here would have impacted our family.
With the help of doctors and specialists my family member received help and is now on prescribed medication to help him. He says he’s never felt better, but we have all had to go through such a lot to get to this point.
Despite this, we know we are the lucky ones, unlike many other families where the consequences are tragic.
I encourage anyone – whether you feel you are being consumed by a wave of emotions, or are just feeling down – to speak to someone. There are many helplines now set up for you to call, no matter what the issue you are facing. You can visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines for a full list of contact numbers.
We are lucky enough to work for an organisation where we also have Mental Health First Aiders. So please don’t be afraid to speak up and share what you are feeling. As in my experience, it really could save your life.