Why Raise Awareness About Mental Health?
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and while we at The Vision Project are recovery-focused, we do have to occasionally take the time to remember why awareness is so important.
Why raise awareness of mental health? Why challenge stigma, discrimination and misconceptions? Why fight for better and more accessible interventions? Why demand that mental health services receive a parity of esteem with physical health services – and not get sidelined as a lower priority?
What’s at stake? The short answer is simply – people’s lives.
The Government, in 2011 released their framework for “no health without mental health”, and that phrasing couldn’t be more accurate. Without good mental health, everything else is vulnerable.
Physical health problems of any kind can lead to serious mental health problems, and vice versa.
Poor or untreated mental health problems are associated with so many negatively compounding factors, including further physical health issues, long-term unemployment, poverty, homelessness, substance misuse and even an increased risk of becoming a victim of violence. These overlapping complex needs are difficult to unravel, but increasing awareness is one way of fighting back.
Although we can’t address everything in detail here, here are some 4 selected infographics to remind us all – why raise awareness about mental health? What’s at stake?
This first one comes from The Community Mental Health Survey 2014 (Picker Institute, 2014) and demonstrates the need for people to be more involved in the care they receive.
Secondly, data from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) 2012/13 shows that despite some improvements with the Mental Health Act, there is still a long way to go:
Third, designed by Iveta Krajcirova for CALM: Campaign Against Living Miserably shows the data on suicide, particularly male suicide in the UK in 2011 – a trend which is still unfortunately not bucking as much as we would like to see. The causes of suicide are complex and multifacted, but raising awareness of mental health so that we can talk about it more openly is of vital importance.
For any readers who feel they are struggling-
CALM’s helpline number is 0800 58 58 58, or 0808 80 25 858 for those in London.
Samaritans can also be contacted 08457 90 90 90 in the UK or 116 123 ROI.
There are also many organisations offering support either online, on the phone, by text or even in person- which you can find in our Useful Resources & Services (National & Online) or Useful Resources & Services (Local) section of the Vision website.
Fourth, this Key Facts and Trends in Mental Health infographic – (Mental Health Network NHS Confederation, 2014), which shows the continuing trends of rising demand and struggling resources in mental health services. If we are to truly treat mental health the same way we do physical health and give them parity of esteem – this needs to change. A starting point for that? It might very well be increased awareness.
We have only managed to touch on some of the issues of what’s at stake and why we need to raise awareness of mental health here. There are so many issues and no quick fixes – but we have to start somewhere.
By having more open, honest conversations about the issues that will affect 1 in 4 people in any given year – we might begin to shine the spotlight on an area that needs it most. If you have any comments, please feel free to submit them in the comment box below!
You can learn how to get involved in the Mental Health Awareness Week 2015 campaign at the Mental Health Foundation’s website.
If you feel strongly about any of these issues and have ideas of what you could do to help or bring change – even if in a small way, get in touch with us at The Vision Project via the About Us page!
…and finally, a reminder – let’s keep this conversation going throughout and beyond Mental Health Awareness Week!