If I could share some wisdom with my younger self, I think it would be the following:
- Times will get hard, but you will get through them
- One day you will find a place where you feel truly accepted for who you are
- One day you will begin to learn to love yourself and accept all that real acceptance encompasses
I was a fairly average teenager, with average problems... but growing up has taught me a lot which would have made my awkward teenage years a lot more manageable!
One in ten suicides in the UK are by young people aged 15-25 and research completed by LSE in 2012 found that 59% of young people interviewed had researched suicide online. The statistics are worrying but they only touch the surface of the scale of difficulties faced by young people in the UK at the moment. We're not offering a lot of our young people the opportunity to talk about their feelings and difficulties enough, and subsequently young people often don't have an opportunity to learn skills that would help them improve their wellbeing until they reach a point where their struggles are very difficult to combat.
Perhaps I'm biased as I work with young people on a daily basis as a media worker for a non-profit mental health organisation; but when you actually spend time talking to these young people, you realise that they have more of an understanding of their difficulties that we might imagine. Often, they've just had no opportunity to talk about their problems, or haven't been listened to. It's scary to think there are so many young people out there who have no opportunity to access support, let alone make the most of it.
Is there a solution? Is it realistic to think that we could make mental health stigma free? Well, perhaps we could. I'm not suggesting that everyone starts offloading their mental health woes to any passing stranger, but if we had a proper support system in place that really was the norm to engage with. Then maybe just maybe we could all start to benefit from having a place where it's 'ok' to not be ok!
As the PM pledges to spend over £1bn to spend on mental health services across the country, I wonder how much of this money will really go into providing anything new. The current mental health services are stretched to capacity, so is any new spending really going to make a difference or just fall into a bit of a black whole trying to fix the problem we have already. Of course, I'm most certainly in favour of increasing spending for mental health services, however I worry that it may not reach the most effective places. I believe in early intervention and working to help educate individuals to have a much greater understanding of their own mental health and wellbeing. To me, it seems to be the key to helping to prevent mental illness getting worse and requiring more intensive support. At the moment it feels like money is spent holding people on waiting lists, with minimal crisis management support and ultimately it's meaning they are in the system for much longer as a result.
There isn't a quick or obvious solution. But perhaps we could start small; work with young people to help them to understand themselves and the importance of looking after their wellbeing or enabling them to build their self esteem and resilience skills. That way, maybe they would be better placed to deal with any difficulties they face in the future. We've got to get them talking... otherwise the problems will just self-perpetuate.
I am so privileged to have been shortlisted in the UK blog awards. I would really appreciate you taking a look at my entry and voting if you have a spare moment! I started my blogging journey as an inpatient and battled to be able to get back to writing with the hopes of helping others as well as myself. Being recognised for my blogging is just an amazing reward and I hope it will enable me to reach even more people. You can vote here and read my blog and more about my reasons for entering here.