At Oyster, we get a kick out of using our powers to do good – that means empowering people living with chronic conditions: wherever they are in the world.
In today’s Friday Fundraiser, we’re supporting the mental health charity, Mind. Donate today and help us spread the word on social media by sharing this post and using our #FridayFundraiser
Let’s talk about mental health
I write this post with some upsetting news fresh in my mind. An acquaintance of mine took her own life last week. She wasn’t someone I knew well but the loss hit me hard all the same.
She was young, funny, smiley, had many loving friends, a sense of purpose in her career as a youth-worker and a strong sense of identity. I met her on a train and spent a fun evening with her and her then girlfriend in the pub. She was a free spirit with an open heart.
The last contact I had with her was a loose arrangement to go for a drink, which never came about. I wonder if anyone close to her knew about the extent of her suffering that led her to feel desperate enough to end her life?
I learned of her death mid-way through my challenge to run every day in January in aid of Mind, the mental health charity. I ran with a renewed sense of purpose, for the loss of that girl and for everyone who is struggling through every day.
One in four people in the UK develop anxiety, depression or other related conditions every year. I suspect that in reality the number is probably much higher than that, given the stigma that still exists around mental illness. As a result people suffer in silence.
Mental illness has been on the rise in recent years. An annual report by the Mental Health Foundation, Fundamental Facts About Mental Health, 2016, revealed that one in six people over the age of 16 had a common mental health problem in the week prior to being interviewed, representing a 16.2% increase since a 2007 survey. While nearly half (43.4%) of adults surveyed felt they have had a diagnosable mental health condition at some point in their lives.
Provision of mental health services is a hot topic in health news. Prime Minister Theresa May has stepped into the limelight on several occasions recently to pledge more help for people with depression, with the goal of reducing suicides, and stating mental health has been “dangerously disregarded” as secondary to physical health. She wants employers and schools to step up and is placing special emphasis on protecting young people, as figures show that 75% of mental health problems start by the age of 18.
Ex mental health minister for the coalition, MP Norman Lamb, is calling for more robust measures to improve care, such as maximum wait times for mental health treatment to match those that exist for physical health. And it is needed. Scotland in particular is facing a crisis in this respect; recent figures reveal that some people have been waiting up to two years for mental health care.
Whatever happens, one thing is certain: all this publicity is a very good thing. Talking about mental illness and breaking down the barriers to doing so is the first step in improving the situation.
(One wonders if not talking about mental health issues is partly responsible for why suicide rates are three times higher among men, than among women?)
Meanwhile, charities like Mind are on the frontline, dealing with the ever-increasing responsibility to help those in need, in the wake of a monetary vacuum. They need our help.
Make January red, not blue
January. Daylight hours are short, skies are cold and grey, and bank balances are depleted. While some people start a new year on a high, brimming with positivity and enthusiasm, many of us are likely to be feeling a lack of motivation to do much more than hibernate under a blanket with a packet of biscuits and our favourite box set.
One person, Hannah Beecham, saw the construct of “January blues” as an opportunity. She started the RED January campaign in 2016 to help people #BeatTheBlues. She was inspired to do something proactive after watching her mum suffer with depression for years. (Read more about Hannah’s story here http://www.runeverydayjanuary.com/our-inspiration/)
R.E.D January is a double-pronged attack on mental illness – by asking people to run, or walk, every day it aims to help people fight depression, while raising awareness for mental health and support for a brilliant charity.
“This is your chance to say, January’s not blue, it’s R.E.D” and “outrunning depression one day at a time” are two of the campaign’s slogans.
The mottos caught my attention. Myself and fellow Oyster, Jenny, decided to join the fight against depression and while it has by no means been easy, it has been a very positive start to the year.
My days have more structure, my appetite has improved, my mood is up and my anxiety levels have reduced. Dragging myself outside in the freezing fog, wind and rain, is never something I would choose to do. But getting out and active has definitely improved my energy levels, while running in my lunch break has been a great outlet for workplace stress and has improved my focus, too.
The sense of community on the R.E.D Facebook page has been amazing, as have the demonstrations of human kindness and words of encouragement from group members for those in the movement who, struggling with mental illness, have found getting out of the house every day a particular challenge. This kind of support is priceless for someone who is anxious, depressed, and maybe withdrawn.
On 24 January, the combined efforts of the team fundraising had raised £50,515, 63% of the £80,500 target. Pledge your support for Mind and show you care about mental health at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Annabel-Daguerre1
What can this money do?
The list of support and services the charity offers is extensive – from abuse support, bereavement, crises services, housing, respite, learning disability support and much more. They also run several campaigns, which you can learn more about here: http://www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/campaigns/
Published on: January 27, 2017