In the News: We need to talk about graduate depression

One in four undergraduates experience mental health issues during their studies according to YouGov, but there is little said of the awful feeling post-graduation that leaves students feeling anxious, upset and confused.

This silent problem is taking over the lives of recent graduates, and while conversations around mental health in general have been getting louder, this is an area that is still relatively quiet.

Finishing university is supposed to be a special moment when your life can finally start. Watch out world, here you come, all bright eyed and bushy tailed – but sadly, this isn’t always the case.

After years of being in full-time education, it is now time to start fiercely competing with others in the same situation as you for that much talked about dream job.

Leaving university is a shock to the system.

It’s no longer about making sure you’ve done the extra reading and taking part in seminars, but about being expected to land a job, have a plan and start saving for things like a mortgage.

And when we take a step back and realise that we are leaving a way of life we’ve been in since we were 3-years-old, it is easy to see why graduates are feeling this way.

Education is a well-structured system, and the loss of this leaves many graduates feeling as though they are drifting, often too afraid to commit to one solid career field, fearing that it may be the wrong one.

Those on the hunt for jobs are placed in an impossible situation; they are either under qualified for a role relevant to their studies, or find themselves over qualified for a temporary job to get them by.

Studying for a degree brings its own stresses, and students should not be disheartened or discouraged by anyone who devalues what they are doing; it should be acknowledged that help is within reach if the post-university prospects do not exceed or live up to expectations that students may have for their futures.

In the few months, or weeks in some cases, between exam period to graduation date, and graduation ceremony to ‘real world’, a lot is expected to change in a short period of time, and the transition is not always an easy one. There needs to be more focus from the authorities on the transition from university to employment.

The BACP gives the following advice for anyone who is concerned they are experiencing post-university depression. Primarily, ‘it’s good to talk’, so the first step is to open up to friends, colleagues, family members or a partner. By telling someone how the movement from university to real world is making you feel, often a positive result can be reached.

If this does not help, then you are advised to seek professional help. In a safe, confidential place, anyone suffering from post-university depression can talk with their GP.

Full link to articles: http://metro.co.uk/2017/07/17/why-is-no-one-talking-about-post-graduate-depression-6760769/

http://www.independent.co.uk/student/student-life/health/graduate-blues-why-we-need-to-talk-about-post-university-depression-8729522.html

In the News: How to support a depressed partner while maintaining your own mental health

here is no lightning-bolt moment when you realise you are losing your sense of self; just an absence. When you are caring for someone you love, your wants and needs are supplanted by theirs, because what you want, more than anything, is for them to be well. Looking after a partner with mental health problems – in my case, my husband Rob, who had chronic depression – is complicated.

Like many people, Rob and I were not raised in a society that acknowledged, let alone spoke about, depression. The silence and stigma shaped how he dealt with his illness: indeed, he struggled with the very idea of being ill. He told me fairly early on in our relationship that he had depression, but I had no idea what this entailed – the scale, the scope, the fact that a chronic illness like this can recur every year and linger for months.

I didn’t know what questions to ask. And Rob struggled to articulate how bad it was. He wanted to be “normal” so he expended a lot of energy trying to pretend he was OK when he wasn’t. In 2015, Rob took his life. The reasons are complex, but I believe it was a mix of depression and an addiction to the opiates he used to self-medicate.

Although I am painfully aware of how Rob’s battle ended, I am often asked about how I dealt with it when he was alive. Hindsight is always bittersweet, but I did learn a lot – especially about taking care of my own mental health.

Look after yourself

Feeling that you have to handle everything is natural, but you have to look after yourself or you won’t be any use to your partner. “That pressure to keep it all going can feel too much,” says Dr Monica Cain, counselling psychologist at Nightingale hospital in London. She advises “taking that pressure seriously. It’s something that is very difficult to manage even at the best of times.”

Remember that depression isn’t just a mental illness

It used to drive me mad that Rob wouldn’t get out of bed. It took a while to realise that he “couldn’t” rather than “wouldn’t”. I was so sure he would feel better if he came out for a walk or met his friends, but depression is a physical illness, too. As Dr Cain says: “Physically, depression impacts energy levels. People sometimes feel very tired and want to stay in bed all the time.”

Don’t stop doing the things you love

When your partner can’t get out of bed or come to social engagements with you, there can be anger and frustration. Jayne Hardy, founder of the Blurt Foundation, which helps those affected by depression, says the “feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and unworthiness” depressed people may have mean they often “place loved ones on a pedestal”. She says their skewed perspective means they can “struggle to see what they have to offer you”.

On more than one occasion, Rob said to me: “I feel like I’m ruining your life.” I stopped doing the things I loved and, because I stayed at home with him, it made him feel guilty that I was missing out.

Take charge of admin and finance

People with depression find even mundane tasks, such as opening the post or going to the shops, impossible. Often, they keep their finances hidden, says Dr Cain. “It can feel quite shameful for them to say: ‘I’m finding it difficult to stay on top of it.’” This can be stressful for their partners. As Dr Antonis Kousoulis, a clinician and an assistant director at the Mental Health Foundation, says: “Being the main source of support for a partner with depression can add a lot of pressure.” But it is still better than not knowing what’s happening with your partner’s finances or admin. So, to maintain your own mental health and avoid unnecessary stress, it may be easier to have an agreement with your partner that, when they are ill, you will be in the admin driving seat. And when they feel able, they will sort it out.

Talk to your friends and family

You may fear that friends and family won’t understand. But trying to maintain appearances while supporting your partner is exhausting. “Opening up conversations to friends and families, and getting them involved usually makes a big difference in tackling the stigma and building a circle of support,” says Dr Kousoulis. Hardy adds: “All the advice we would give to someone who is unwell with depression also applies to loved ones who support us: make sure you are supported, reach out for help in understanding more about the illness, keep the channels of communication open; don’t be afraid to ask questions, and prioritise self-care.”

Don’t take it personally

There is the person you fell in love with, who makes you laugh until it hurts – and then there are the bad days, when you are dealing with a stranger who won’t let you in. “Depression can magnify or alter emotions,” says Dr Kousoulis. “A person can have emotional highs and lows in equal degrees, so it is important not to take changes personally.”

This can be easier said than done. I found my own coping mechanisms – therapy, exercise and lowering my expectations of what I needed and wanted from Rob when he was feeling bad. I knew that somewhere inside this person was my husband, so from time to time, I’d leave him postcards telling him how much I loved him. He didn’t react in an effusive way but I know it got through because he kept every one in a memory box.

Above all, hold on to your love. “You won’t always feel as though you are making any progress,” says Hardy. “You, too, may feel helpless at times. But your patience, kindness and understanding make such a difference.”

You can read the full article at this link: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jul/10/how-to-support-a-depressed-partner-while-maintaining-your-own-mental-health?CMP=fb_gu

In the News: Have men been let down over mental health?

“He was the life and soul of the party, but inside he was battling serious demons. He was a 25-year-old man who looked to have everything going for him, but he couldn’t vocalise his problems.” That is how Rowland Bennett describes his best friend Charlie Berry, who took his own life a year ago.

Suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 49 in the UK, and men are three times more likely to take their own lives than women. According to campaigners, most men thinking about suicide never talk to anyone about the problems that have brought them to crisis point.

After his friend’s death, Bennett, a booker and promoter in the music industry, became involved with the male suicide awareness charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (Calm), organising its 10th anniversary fundraiser night in London. “Since I’ve been involved, I’ve heard more and more people say ‘I lost a friend’ or ‘My mate, the party guy, killed himself’ – everyone has got those stories,” he says. “Men don’t want to be that guy talking about depression. They want to be the character people think they are.”

Male suicide research by the charity Samaritans suggests men often compare themselves against a “gold standard” of masculinity which is often incredibly difficult to live up to. The charity has highlighted the issue for middle-aged men, who have the highest rate of suicide of any age group. Research manager Elizabeth Scowcroft says that is probably down to a combination of factors, including relationship breakdown and financial pressures. “We need to think about ways we can engage with those who are most at risk, targeting the right people, encouraging them to seek help,” she says. “It’s about talking to people earlier rather than once they are at crisis point and feel they want to take their own lives.”

Calm’s chief executive, Jane Powell, says rather than focusing on particular risk groups, society needs to see suicide as an “every man” issue. “What’s frustrating is there is an overwhelming sexism when it comes to looking at this. At what point are we going to look at why more men – regardless of age – take their own lives than women?”

Click the following link to read the full article: https://www.theguardian.com/healthcare-network/2016/may/18/men-suicide-mental-health?CMP=share_btn_tw

In the News: Facebook and Twitter ‘harm young people’s mental health’

Four of the five most popular forms of social media harm young people’s mental health, with Instagram the most damaging, according to research by two health organisations.

Instagram has the most negative impact on young people’s mental wellbeing, a survey of almost 1,500 14- to 24-year-olds found, and the health groups accused it of deepening young people’s feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.

The survey, published on Friday, concluded that Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter are also harmful. Among the five only YouTube was judged to have a positive impact.

The four platforms have a negative effect because they can exacerbate children’s and young people’s body image worries, and worsen bullying, sleep problems and feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness, the participants said.

 

To read the full article, please click the following link:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/may/19/popular-social-media-sites-harm-young-peoples-mental-health

Mental Health Today – Wales #MHTWales17

Last week I was invited to speak at the Mental Health Today conference in Cardiff. I set off on the Tuesday afternoon to make my way and was greeted to Wales with sun filled valleys and lush, green hill tops- what a sight!

As I entered Cardiff the scenery changed to a hive of activity, with tall buildings and busy people. I found my way through the traffic to my destination, the Premier Inn. With the extra excuse of it being Mental Health Awareness week I made sure I had a delicious hot meal and enjoyed a bubble bath with my first Lush (Handmade cosmetics) bath bomb.

With approximately 400 people attending the conference I was excited to mingle and meet new faces. The day of the conference was one of inspiration and hope. So many people and so many experiences to share! One particular presentation from Cyfle Cymru really stuck out for me, with a service user sharing their story with us. He mentioned the importance of creating space to do the things we want to do and taking the time to understand what getting well meant. I felt this message was such an important one for all of us to take note of. If we are to thrive it is essential we let ourselves explore what this looks like and how it will be done.

Before long it was my turn to present. Many people tell me I am confident when presenting, something I still struggle to accept after many years of managing my anxiety. As many of you may agree it is surprising just how much can go through your mind before you step up to speak. One of the last thoughts I had, whilst taking deep breaths and walking up to the stand, was how awe-inspiring it was to have so many people gathered together in one space all with the same mission to help improve the lives of those with mental health conditions- and I was lucky enough to contribute to this.

The whole day radiated hope and drive for constant change and I look forward to experiencing more of this atmosphere again at our own National conference on the 1st March, From Harm to Hope.

For more feedback on what took place at Mental Health Today and to read the interview I had on how best to support those who self harm please click here.

For more information on our own conference, From Harm to Hope email: admin@harmless.org.uk

CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE

Harmless speak on talkRADIO about self harm

In the busy lead up to Christmas we were approached by a number of radio stations. This was in response to the published Self harm stats from the NSPCC which highlighted that 19,000 children were admitted to hospital after harming themselves last year – a 14% rise over three years (for more on those stats please click here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-38252335).

I spoke with talkRADIO about self harm and appropriate ways to support and respond to individuals who self harm. To listen to the interview please click the following link:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/lw0wr8ly4aywxj1/Radio%20.mp4?dl=0

Thank you to Children In Need for supporting our young people self harm services

Tonight (18th November 2016) we will see the return of BBC Children in Need’s appeal show – an annual event which looks to raise money that will be used to make a real difference to the lives of disadvantaged children across the UK.

Since their first major Appeal in 1980, BBC Children in Need has raised over £800 million supporting thousands of projects to help achieve their vision; that every child in the UK has a childhood which is safe, happy and secure and allows them the chance to reach their potential.

Harmless are one of the many projects that have benefited from the money raised by the public and Children In Need.

In 2012, Harmless were awarded £88,910 over a 3 year period and supported more than 300 young people aged 11 to 18 who self-harm (or are at risk of self-harm).

In 2015, Harmless were awarded a further £109,489 to provide weekly counselling support for those who self harm or are at risk of suicide. We are now in our second year having already directly supported 63 different children and young people across Nottingham in year 1.

Earlier this year, Children In Need also created a short video about the work Harmless do which you can watch here: [Insert Link]

On behalf the Harmless team, I would like to thank Children in Need and their team for the continued support that they have given to Harmless and the children and young people that access our service(s). We wish everyone all the best and hope that they have another record breaking evening.

Darren Fox
Business and Operations Manager

 

To view an animation created by BBC Children in Need and Harmless, please click Bronwyn’s Story.

Watch Appeal Show 2015 on BBC One from 7:00pm on Friday 18th November

You can donate to Children in Need by clicking here

To learn more about our self harm support services, please contact Harmless by emailing info@harmless.org.uk

In the News: Mental health is the largest single course of ill health in UK.

Statistics suggest that one in four people in the UK will suffer with a mental health problem, which is the largest single course of ill health. Yet around three quarters of these people will receive no treatment at all. Ten per cent of children and young adults have a mental health problem and yet seventy per cent will receive no treatment.

GP’s are seeing more patients coming in with anxiety and low mood symptoms. Yet they are experiences difficulty accessing ongoing mental health support for their patients, suggesting that it may take a crisis for a person to be seen acutely by the mental health team.

One GP explains how they have been allocated a CPN who is able to see patients on the milder ends of the anxiety and depression spectrum, but has some concerns because this is a 12 month pilot.

They would like to see a CPN and social worker at every practice, which would allow them to link in with Mental health teams easier.

If you would like help and support please contact us on info@harmless.org.uk

 

For the full story follow the link: www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jul/12/gps-cant-solve-mental-health-crisis

In the news: Self harm- 6,000 people attend emergency departments

More than 6,000 people turned up at emergency departments across Northern Ireland in 2015 having self-harmed. 

The majority were young people, aged between 15 and 24.

Records show that a number of people sought help on more than one occasion with over 8,500 incidents in 12 months.

The statistic is part of the chief medical officer’s annual report which reflects on the health of the population in Northern Ireland.

Dr Michael McBride said when it comes to mental health and in particular, self-harm, there is a need to intervene.

“We need to be aware that people who self-harm repeatedly are at much higher risk of taking their own lives by suicide” he said.

A self-harm registry which operates across all acute hospitals is designed to improve understanding about self-harm and to allow for comparative analysis with the Republic of Ireland and parts of England.

In its latest report, the registry concluded that Northern Ireland continues to have a high rate of self-harm.

While alcohol is a factor, drug overdose was the most common method of self-harm.

In his 9th annual report, Dr Michael McBride, gives a wide-ranging review of the service, including health inequalities, vaccination and screening programmes and dental health.

However, he also emphasises that the quality and advances in health care are not the only determinants of good health.

For the full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-36351142

In the News: Children ‘denied mental health support’

A total of 28% of children referred for mental health support in England in 2015 were sent away without help, some after a suicide attempt, a report says.

The Children’s Commissioner’s review of mental health services also found that 13% with life-threatening conditions were not allowed specialist support.

This group included children who had attempted serious self-harm and those with psychosis and anorexia nervosa.

A government spokesman said no-one should be sent away in need.

The commissioner obtained data from 48 of England’s 60 child and adolescent mental health service trusts.

One trust in north-west England said it focused resources on the most severe cases.

‘Russian roulette’

There have been concerns in recent years about the patchy nature of services offered by child and adolescent mental health trusts (CAMHs), with many seemingly unable to cope with local demand.

And school teachers and heads in some areas have highlighted the growing mental health need amongst pupils which are having to be met within schools.

‘Frightened the living daylights out of me’

Ellie Fogden, now 19, sought help when she was 16:

I did not become ill immediately at 16. For a number of years, I felt quite down, so to speak.

It was constant worrying, pressure from school, and my own body image.

I got to a point where I had had enough. I am waking up every day and I am not wanting to be here.

I self-referred to a local counselling service and I was on a waiting list for about three months and then started sessions. The counsellor was very worried and she referred me to CAMHs.

I had to go to the doctor to get a referral and it took about three to four weeks to get a session. I was in there for about three hours and I was just bombarded with so many questions. Some of them I didn’t have the answer for because I didn’t understand what was going on in my head.

I wasn’t taken seriously enough. Some of the questions were dismissed as – it is not that bad, people have it worse. For me, it felt awful. There was no compassion which made it so much worse.

I didn’t go back for another CAMHs appointment. It frightened the living daylights out of me. I finished counselling at this independent service. I wasn’t great but wasn’t as bad.

As I have grown older, it has just gone into a downward spiral where I am currently worse than I was when I was 16, with depression.

For the full story follow the link..

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-36398247