Today is World Mental Health Day, a day that ensures we refocus our attention on the very simple fact that mental health problems can affect anyone at any time, which is why it’s so important to keep up the conversation throughout the year – you never know who or when someone might need that opening.
The theme of World Mental Health Day 2019 is suicide and suicide prevention. Time to Change (a fantastic organisation dedicated to changing the way we think and discuss mental health) reports that “every year, close to 800,000 people globally take their own life and there are many more people who attempt suicide. It’s the leading cause of death among young people aged 20-34 years in the UK and is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds globally.”
The Mental Health Foundation suggests applying the #WAIT acronym to situations where support and prevention are key:
W – Watch out for signs of distress and uncharacteristic behaviour
(Watch out for signs of distress and uncharacteristic behaviour)
A – Ask “are you having suicidal thoughts?”
(Asking about suicide does not encourage it, nor does it lead a person to start thinking about it; in fact, it may help prevent it, and can start a potentially life-saving conversation)
I – It will pass
(Give hope and assure your loved one that, with help, their suicidal feelings will pass with time)
T – Talk to others
(Encourage your loved one to seek help from a GP or healthcare professional)
This World Mental Health Day should be used to encourage all of us to consider how we can create learning opportunities within our social and professional circles to raise the overall level of understanding we have of mental health and the stigma that surrounds it.
If you or someone you know needs help, then there are many places you can seek it from professionals:
- Samaritans offer a 24-hours a day, 7 days a week support service. Call them FREE on 116 123. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Papyrus is a dedicated service for people up to the age of 35 who are worried about how they are feeling or anyone concerned about a young person. You can call the HOPElineUK number on 0800 068 4141, text 07786 209697 or email email@example.com
- NHS Choices: 24-hour national helpline providing health advice and information. Call them free on 111.
- C.A.L.M.: National helpline for men to talk about any troubles they are feeling. Call 0800 58 58 58.
- Support After Suicide Partnership offers practical and emotional support on their website for people bereaved and affected by suicide.
Author: Charmaine Musonza