Saturday, 28 November 2015

This Week in Mental Health... 29th November 2015

Here we go again!! Hard to believe the weeks go by so quickly. I've been completely snowed under (and sadly not in the literal winter-y way). Work's been busy, but I have some great weeks ahead to look forward to. Here's what I've been reading this week... 

1) Guardian research suggests mental health crisis among aid workers, Holly Young
Working in overseas aid often puts you on the frontline of natural disaster, war and disease. But the aid workers are suffering mentally as a result.

The Guardian, 23rd November 2015:
“A worryingly high proportion of aid workers have experienced mental health issues, exclusive findings from the Guardian can reveal.  79% of the 754 respondents to the mental health and wellbeing survey on the Global Development Professional Network stated that they had experienced mental health issues. The overwhelming majority, 93%, believe these to have been related to their work in the aid industry. “

2) Dear Media: People With Mental Illness Are Not Monsters -- Stop Making Them Look Like They Are, Rachel Griffin
The fabulous Rachel Griffin is back on the Huffington Blog once again to raise awareness around mental illness. In her excellent open letter to the media she challenges the mixed messages we continue to give those who are feeling suicidal or experiencing a mental illness.

Huffington Post, 23rd November 2015:
“Why would anyone want to admit that they are struggling with their mental health when they might be stereotyped as a terrible, crazy person? When they never see any hopeful cases of people receiving treatment and leading wonderful, productive, happy lives? When they bring up the subject and their friend rushes off to get a drink refill...We make people feel isolated, alone, and like freaks. We beg people who are suffering and suicidal to get help while at the same time shaming and stigmatizing them. We give mixed messages. Our shame is dated, unethical and cruel.”

3) The Silicon Valley Suicides, Hannah Rosin
Two schools in Palo Alto, San Francisco have been losing an alarmingly high number of kids to suicide for over 5 years. The deaths occur in clusters; with one death triggering another, followed by another. What can be done to ensure that this stops once and for all? The Atlantic investigates.

The Atlantic, December 2015 Issue:
“Thankfully, or maybe eerily, the school district was stocked with suicide-prevention experts: professionals from Stanford and amateurs who’d become deeply knowledgeable in recent years. After the 2009–10 cluster, the school district had put together a comprehensive post-suicide “toolkit” and trained the staff on what to do to help prevent another cluster from developing. Statistically, that had been unlikely. “Echo clusters,” meaning second clusters in the same location within a decade, are extremely rare. Gunn’s teachers were told they could have a substitute for the day if they felt too traumatized. Grief counselors roamed the school grounds, making themselves available to the groups of students who were standing around crying. Staff checked in with students who were thought to be especially vulnerable.”

4) How to Support Someone Who Is Struggling, Niamh Gallagher

Lovely post on how to support someone who might be struggling with their own mental health. Take a look at this extract below.

Create a Whole New You, 24th November 2015;
“2. Don’t Try to Fix It
You probably can’t. And that’s okay. You don’t have to have any answers. Some things are just sh*t. Trying to clumsily ‘fix’ someone’s pain by telling them they’ll ‘get over it’ just makes them feel more alone – because when you try to fix someone you push them away. I’d also like to ban the phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” Maybe it does. But I’ve never found that.”

5) Winter is Coming: Five Ways It Can Affect Your Mental Health, Tayana Simons
How to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Huffington Post, 26th November 2015:
“Supposedly SAD affects 10% of the population, although I would argue that it affects most of us in varying degrees of severity. But contrary to what you might believe, SAD is not actually bought on by the weather that winter brings but by lack of exposure to natural light. And most importantly we shouldn't underestimate the significant effect it can have on the way we feel both physically and mentally. Here's why...”

6) We need to plug investment gaps in mental health services, Shari McDaid and Brendan McCarthy
Great opinion piece from the great people behind Mental Health Reform and the Cork Mental Health Foundation and Housing Association. People are beginning to know that it’s important for them to talk about their mental health, but what happens when there’s no one to listen?

Irish Examiner, 27th November 2015;
“Thankfully these days, the message that “it’s OK not to feel OK and it’s absolutely OK to ask for help” is being shared widely. When people do reach out for help, it’s vital that there are good quality mental health services and supports that are easily accessible to people in their local area, to help them in their recovery. But Ireland’s mental health system is under severe strain due to decades of under-investment. Mental health staffing is still 22% below the recommended level and many services are struggling, unable to meet the need.”

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