I thought it was about time I got something off my chest. Some of you may already know, mental health is something I feel very strongly about….I know, shock, something more than fashion and materialistic things! This blog post is solely focused on NI because it’s where I live, where there is no government to do anything about the epidemic and where I see a stigma attached to mental health and it isn’t taken seriously, quite frankly. Prepare for word vomit.
What’s Going On?
Currently, Northern Ireland doesn’t have a government and hasn’t since January 2017 – almost two years. Yet politicians still get paid. Imagine not going to work for two years and still being paid your wage! Dreamy. Not when there are key decisions to be made, mental health issues on the rise and more young people taking their own lives because they have no one to turn to. “Prevalence of mental illness in Northern Ireland is 25% higher than in England”, Action Mental Health. Older generations may say things like “oh they’re bad with their nerves” and truly don’t understand what’s going on in someone’s head, which saddens me because there is an older generation in NI who are suffering from the trauma of the Troubles.
One in four people are battling some sort of mental illness. That is a huge figure! At least one or two of your close friends or family might have something going on. That’s why there needs to be more emphasis put on the fact that it’s OK to talk and it’s OK not to feel OK. In the past two years, the number of young people committing suicide because they couldn’t cope with how they were feeling anymore is incredibly heart-breaking. How many more people have to take their own lives before our government get their asses into gear, get back to work and do something about this?! We’re facing an epidemic.
Businesses Dealing with Employees
Last week saw the annual World Mental Health Day and a large number of businesses changing their logos to purple to mark the day. Very tempted to use the clapping emoji between each word but I will refrain. Changing your logo won’t help if your business still isn’t doing anything to support staff with mental health issues! Let’s go back to the 1 in 4 figure again. Hypothetically, if a business has 100 members of staff, there is a chance that around 25 employees aren’t feeling great. Whether the business provides a support system in terms of talking to a manager, donating to mental health charities or even has knowledge about mental health, then staff may feel like the business truly cares. I see so many job roles advertised which have benefits such as a cycle to work scheme, discount off a gym membership, staff nights out. It’s important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health.
Sometimes, people become so stressed with their workload or unhappy in their job role that they become depressed. According to Action Mental Health “almost 50% of long-term absences from work are due to mental health issues.” More businesses should give staff the option to work from home on low days, to talk to HR or even an in-house counsellor so that staff can discuss how they’re feeling before it all gets too much and they feel like they need to take time off work.
Talking to Someone
Recently, I hit two seriously low points, both of which I turned to my family and doctor. I’m fortunate enough to have a family that I can confide in, but not everyone does. There needs to be a network, support system or friends who know how to listen to someone in need. I still have friends who I feel just think “she’s such a Debbie downer” or that have had enough of listening to me cry, which is scary! This week, I spoke to one of the nicest nurses who genuinely cared about how I was feeling. *My pill was making me feel anxious and down, so I asked for her advice.* She asked what was going on in my life, how I was feeling, assured me I could call her or visit for a chat. I would also like to point out, this blog post is something I have wanted to write for so long. I’m fortunate that I have never had extremely dark thoughts (ie.suicidal), but if YOU have, please, please, please talk to someone! You matter, your moods matter and there is always something positive to look to, even if you can’t see it right now.
If you need to talk to someone about how you’re feeling, call your doctor. They can provide counselling, medication or even methods of improving your moods that don’t involve medication.
Things I have found to calm my anxiety
- Meditation, using the Headspace app
- Exercise, releasing endorphins
- Limit your alcohol consumption, it’s a depressant
- Try and maintain a balanced diet but eat the pizza if that’s what you want!
- Positive Mental Attitude, I’m sure you rolled your eyes, but t’s true! If you download Headspace, you’ll learn about your blue sky and understand this more.
- Listen to your body, if you feel run down or as if you just don’t want to see anyone one day, take some time to yourself to read, watch a series on Netflix, bake or whatever relaxes you.
Mental Health Charities to Donate to or Speak to in Northern Ireland
- AWARE NI – they have a great website with facts, well-being programmes and more!
- Samaritans – Contact them here
Feel free to email me with your thoughts via my contact page.