Final Product 1: Visual Piece.
We can’t always express how we truly feel, sometimes we suffer in silences under our masks.
Final Product 2: Written Piece.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
In the space of 12 months two prime ministers have made bold claims that they are dedicated to improving the UK’s current issues surrounding mental health. However whilst they hide behind bold words and no action, suicide rates in the UK have sky-rocketed to the highest they have been in 20 years.
Early this year Prime Minister Theresa May gave a bold and empowered speech regarding the current status of mental health in the United Kingdom. She brought up many relevant points such as tackling mental health issue at a young age and having a suitable and effective support system in place to help children and young people that are suffering in the UK’s current state. May placed emphasis on how mental illnesses and mental health issues that go untreated in children (1 in 10 children suffer from a mental health issue) can result in burdening people with lifelong debilitating mental illnesses. Yet despite the forward thinking approach that May has put forward only 70p out of every £100 the NHS spends goes towards children’s mental health services.
Another bold claim made by May was that she intends to hold former Prime Minister David Cameron accountable for the promises he made regarding mental health. This occurred over a year ago back in January 2016 when Cameron promised to put £1bn towards mental health funding, this being another promise that never came to pass. Just like the claims made back in March of 2015 that £1.25bn would be use to fund mental health services for children and young people. The track record speaks for itself at this point and as much as I want to believe that things with finally take a step in the right direction and the youth in this country will stop having to suffer due to more broken promises, I am left feeling that this is simply more bold, empty claims with non-existent actions to back them up.
Here are some recent statistics sourced from YoungMinds that speak volumes to this countries dire mental health situation.
- 2.2% of 16-24 year olds in Great Britain experienced a depressive episode.
- 4.7% of 16-24 year olds screen positive for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- 16.4% of 16-24 year olds experienced neurotic symptoms.
- 0.2% of 16-24 year olds have a psychotic disorder.
- 1.9% of 16-24 year olds have a diagnosed personality disorder.
- 3.6 of 16-24 year olds have a generalised anxiety disorder.
- 2.3% of 16-24 year olds have an obsessive compulsive disorder.
- 6.2% of 16-24 year olds have attempted suicide in their lifetime.
- 8.9% of 16-24 year olds have self-harmed in their lifetime.
- In 2011, 194 15-19 year olds and 427 20-24 year olds committed suicide.
These statistics speak the harsh truth that not only our behaviour towards mental health but also the support systems in place need to be drastically improved upon. May talks in her speech about how she believes that the main task at hand should be tackling the stigma surrounding mental illness. Although part of this is in fact true as stigma surrounding the subject has become the norm, it is only one aspect of a much larger problem. Even if we are to work on derailing the stigma that currently perpetuates throughout our everyday lives we would still need a solid support system in place for when we overcome that obstacle, otherwise it would all be for nothing. With new social media popping up every day it make it so much easier for the media to spread this stigma, and when those already effected with a mental health issue having to deal with bullying and belittlement it makes it that much harder for them to reach out.
The blame also falls on those that remain silent, those that stand by and watch others suffer, you are part of the problem. I have known many people that refused to help those when they were in need, wh0 then went on to claim how effected they were when the person in question took their own life. I’m not suggesting you have to be someone’s caregiver but letting them know that they aren’t the problem and suggesting they seek help is a push in the right direction. Every little bit of support goes a long way and can make the differences in someone’s world. This culture we have developed of keeping quiet needs to be put to an end. If you are suffering, speak out, seek help, but we must also have a safe place for people to land when they reach out. We need to have a solid support system in place to make sure that nobody falls through the cracks.
Schools and other learning institutions are areas that require desperate action when it come to the mental health and the wellbeing of children. Teaching children at a young age that mental health issues are just as serious as physical injuries and nothing to be ashamed of could allow us to break the stigma before it has time fester. All schools should also have someone qualified to not only help students through these issues but teach them about them as well. There is no excuse in this day and age to not have at least a basic understanding of mental health when one in very ten children are effected. Schools could also offer support groups for children that just need someone to talk to in a safe environment, especially if they cannot afford professional counselling.
The reality is that there is so much that can be done to prevent such horrible tragedies coming to pass, and as the children of the UK are suffering a great deal due to the governments inaction regarding mental health, we owe it to them to take a step in the right direction. Theresa May has made many good, well-intentioned points in regards to the subject and I remain cautiously optimistic the she will follow through with her promises. With how widespread the media has become and everyone having the world at their finger tips it makes it that much easier to spread the word that mental health is serious and not something to be taken lightly. It is time we took action and left empty words behind.