Supporting those with mental health issues

May 17th, 2016 by Home Group Customer, Indra Cooper in Features

A lady stands in a doorway smiling - Indra

Indra Cooper is a Home Group customer who has experience of mental health issues. She also runs a bipolar support group. In her blog, Indra explores the varying support for people suffering mental health issues.

It’s quite likely that one day you, or someone close to you will experience a mental health problem. Yet mental illness is still surrounded by prejudice, ignorance and fear. The attitudes people have towards those of us with mental health problems means it is harder for them to work, make friends and in short, live a normal life.

How many times do you walk down the street and see a young child “playing up” for their parents? The first thing that goes through our minds are things like: “I would never let my child behave like that” or “I would never have done that when I was their age”. We never once look beyond the behaviour and wonder if there is a reason behind why they have just done what they have.

Now walk down the same street and see a child who has downs syndrome acting the same way. Our first thought then is: “poor child, they can’t help themselves”. An illness does not have to be visible to be there. If it was, it would be so much easier for society to accept.

People often find it hard to tell others about a mental health problem they have because they fear a negative reaction. And when they do speak up, the overwhelming majority say they are misunderstood by family members, shunned and ignored by friends, work colleagues and neighbours.

So what support is out there for people who suffer from mental health problems?

The first line of support is at home from family and friends. Although many sufferers can wait over 12 months before they tell family members that they suffer from mental health issues, spouses and parents of younger suffers are usually present at the diagnosis stage. These people will be the main line of help and support, offering encouragement and guidance when needed. Your local GP will be able to offer support and, if needed, any medication. They also have access to other professionals that they can refer people to. Community Mental Health Teams (CMHT’s) are also great support; they have access to a wider field of expertise than your GP, but will work alongside them and the family in management of a condition. They may also be able to refer you to a group course that will help you to learn coping strategies for any mental health condition.

Most communities also have peer led support groups. These can be very beneficial to sufferers and their carers as everyone that attends are in the same boat so to speak. People can exchange first-hand accounts of how to deal with situations, not what they have read from a text book. Carers (family and friends) can also exchange ideas and ways to help with situations. Peer run groups are a great way to meet new people that have the same condition and find extra support and know that you are not alone.

In addition to all of these, there are also nationwide groups that offer help and support, some 24 hours a day. Organisations, such as Mind, cover all mental health problems as do Sane. Home Group also offers care and support services such as supported living, admissions prevention and peer support.There are also organisations that will offer help and support for a specific condition e.g. bipolar, autism etc.

Finally, another way to get help, is through the internet. Most groups and organisations have websites. Here you will find contacts and information on any number of mental health conditions.

Remember, you are not on your own. Up to a point EVERY ONE of us suffers some form of mental health problem in our lives…..being obsessed with cleaning can be Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) for example. Where it becomes a problem is when we cannot live a normal life because of it.

So, next time you are walking down the street and spy the youngster acting up, before you start to comment on their behaviour, remember just because you can’t see the illness doesn’t mean it’s not there.