Mental Health Awareness

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Zowie Kaye

Zowie Kaye

My Big Fat Greek Family – we love our food and love each other even more. We're a like liquorice allsorts, all a bit different. I’m a full time wor...

Typically, and now a more well-known fact is that 1 in 4 people suffer from a mental health condition in a given year.

Between 25 & 40% of people with learning disabilities experience mental health problems.

Of young people and children, the rate of a diagnosable psychiatric disorder is 38% where there is a learning difficulty compared to 8% of those who don’t.

These children and young people are also 33 times more likely to be on the autistic spectrum.

Furthermore; lets not overlook carers who look after family members with a mental health condition, are likely to have an impact on their own mental health, some 71% of carers have poor physical or mental health.

Early intervention is paramount, not only this but normalising mental health early on and removing any stigma.

I have an autistic son and have experienced depression and anxiety myself in the past.

I never want my son to experience these emotions.

The statistics above tell me that he has a higher chance though than most people. The emotional wellbeing and mental health of young autistic people is often overlooked as many of their symptoms could appear "typical" of the condition itself.

For years I had anxiety but didn’t know what it was, didn’t know how to explain it to others. I remember telling my Dr “my chest is tight, and I feel like I can’t get my big breath, like I do a lot of yawning to try and draw breath” – this was about 12 years ago when I was pregnant, and he sent me to hospital to check my oxygen levels.

No one identified it as a mild anxiety attack – not one of the professionals.

Your bodies are very clever things, when you’re feeling anxious or stressed, stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are released.

These hormones cause the physical symptoms.

Other symptoms, that could easily be dismissed are:

• Feelings of worry or unease • Insomnia • Lack of concentration • Feeling irritable • Feeling on-edge • The need of reassurance • Tearfulness

I had the chance in my workplace to join a training programme to become a Mental Health First Aider (MHFA) and I leaped at the chance.

It was my own experiences of suffering with mental health and brining up a child with a disability that helped me get a place on the course.

The training covered the history of mental health and how the stigma originated from people who were placed in “mental institutions”.

I will never forget the first group task which was to write down on a piece of paper a list of negatives words linked to mental health and a list of positive, try it yourself.

We quickly reeled off all the negative associations but could not think of a single positive, it was very sad.

We completed this task at the end of the two-day course and we found that we actually filled up the positive list first with words like optimism, healing, recovery, support, truth, peace, courage, hope.

Its changing your mindset, imagine a world where people didn’t have the negative associations.

We have the power in schools and as parents to teach the next generations that its ok not to be ok and trying to find the positives first.

Please find below some government websites for advice and support:

Mind - for better mental health:

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helping-someone-else/carers-friends-family-coping-support/#.XZM5SihKiM8

Carers Trust:

https://carers.org/section/help-advice

 

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