Everybody's SAD: World Mental Health Day 2019
The weather is turning, and with the exciting turn of 'Fall' (which I must say sounds a lot more appealing to me than 'Autumn'), comes the great winter depression (or SAD, seasonal affective disorder, to give it a technical name).
Sure, not everybody is affected by winter depression - i.e. depression caused by the lack of daylight, thus increase in the sleepy hormone melatonin, however the change in season means it is a great time for World Mental Health Day to arrive (10/10/19).
If you do suffer from SAD there are some things you can do to help, for example... getting more sunlight... Sounds simple, right? However, mental health is not always as simple as lacking in sunlight.
This Mental Health day the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) has chosen the theme of "suicide prevention".
This year, suicide has been brought to my attention by some devastating headlines from Warwick University, where rates of attempted suicide have increased dramatically over the last year. Coronation Street also ran a shocking suicide storyline last year, in which Aidan Connor took his own life, raising awareness for male suicide.
According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 6,507 suicides registered in the UK in 2018, three quarters of which were made up by men.
We are getting better at talking about our mental health, however it is still a taboo. Having 'depression and anxiety' is getting somewhat normalised, however the vast range of other mental disorders from which people suffer are still stigmatised. Talking about our darkest thoughts is hard, and for some seems impossible, however we must get better at doing it.
If you are feeling suicidal there are many people you can talk to that aren't your friends and family:
(Thanks to the NHS website for these!)
- Samaritans – for everyone.
Call 116 123
- Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men.
Call 0800 58 58 58
- Childline – for children and young people under 19. Call 0800 1111 – the number won't show up on your phone bill.
It can be very difficult to tell when someone you are close to is feeling suicidal. The focus of Aidan's story in Coronation Street was the fact that nobody knew how much he was suffering - there were a few signs, but overall it came as a complete shock. All we can do is check in on our friends and family, make sure they feel comfortable talking to you, or at least have someone they can talk to, and if a friend does reach out to you - listen to them. Really listen. Do not give unwarranted advice, but lead them to the resources that can help and provide them with support.
Suffering in life is normal. Nobody will go their whole life struggle-free. For this reason alone it is silly that we should fear talking about our feelings, because somebody else is definitely going through the same thing, and there will always be somebody out there to listen to you.
So, especially this winter, if you find yourself in poor mental health, if you are feeling sad, or lonely, or anxious, or even suicidal, I challenge you to at least talk to someone about it. It may be scary, but the sooner you start to talk about it, the sooner the feelings will start to ease, and it will not be the thing to 'cure' you, but it is a step in the right direction.
More blogs to come soon!!