How did you spend Mental Health Awareness Week? Maybe you took part in an event, shared something on social media, or spoke to a colleague who’s had a difficult time. However you marked it, the week was awash with fascinating stories in the media to increase our understanding of mental health conditions, many focusing on the theme of body image.
Here are some of the stories that stood out for us:
Distress Brief Intervention
A new intervention for adults experiencing a mental health episode has been successfully trialled in four areas of Scotland and will now be rolled out to cover 16 and 17-year-olds. Distress Brief Intervention has been implemented in GP surgeries and A&E departments across Aberdeen, the Borders, Inverness and Lanarkshire. It involves responding appropriately to early signs of mental distress and creating a ‘distress plan’ with patients, which will help with future episodes.
Early intervention is key to normalising mental health conditions and reducing their severity by building support networks and coping strategies for patients before an episode begins.
Body Image and Self-Harm
In a survey of more than 4,500 adults by the Mental Health Foundation, it has emerged that 13% of adults have experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings because of their body image. Of that 13%, the number of LGBT people reporting suicidal thoughts or feelings due to body image was particularly notable: 39% of those were bisexual and 23% were gay or lesbian. What’s more, 10% of women and 4% of men have self-harmed because of their body image.
If you are experiencing thoughts like these, or acting on them, it’s time to talk to someone. There are many types of talking therapy that can help you safely explore the root of these feelings, assess your core beliefs, and challenge negative thoughts towards your body.
A Postcode Lottery for Treatment
Mental health charity Mind revealed the growing postcode lottery of NHS spending on mental health treatment. The lowest spending regions were Surrey Heartlands (£124.48 per person, per year), Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin (£134.77) and Gloucestershire (£137), whilst the highest spending areas allocated over £200 per person, per year.
At Christine Tizzard Psychology, you don’t have to be restricted by your postcode. Our psychologists work in many areas of the UK, from Surrey and Sussex to Liverpool and Leeds.
Mental Health Research Losing £1.5bn in Funding
Miricyl, a charity which campaigns for mental health research, has argued the government’s UK Research and Innovation allocates funding in a way that discriminates against their cause.
The argument from Miricyl concerns UKRI’s match funding strategy; as only 3% of mental health research is funded by charitable donations, this is the matched figure, whereas Miracyl notes these types of health problems affect society and the economy so much that they equate to 16% of all illnesses. It remains to be seen whether UKRI’s actions can be deemed unlawful.
Three Quarters of Finance and Banking Professionals Won’t Use Support Provided by Employers
For this study, Morgan McKinley surveyed 1,100 people in banking, finance and commerce. Their results reveal that many employers aren’t clear enough on their formal policies for mental health support, and this type of illness is still stereotypically thought of as a ‘weakness’.
We’d like to see workplace health policies robustly cover severe stress, anxiety, depression and other psychological issues that may affect staff. This, coupled with a culture change, could create a more emotionally open and resilient workforce, without risking burnout.
Written by guest contributor Vikram Das for Dr Chrissie Tizzard, Chartered Consultant Psychologist, PsychD, BSc, MSc, C.Psychol, C.Sci, AFBPS. Dr Tizzard is the Clinical Director of Christine Tizzard Psychology (ctpsy.co.uk).