Diagnosed or Undiagnosed?
As I’ve got older, words surrounding mental health have become more prominent within daily life. I see friends and acquaintances suffer with anxiety, depression, and witnessed first- hand the struggles of a person with bipolar disorder and suicidal tendencies. In fact, statistics show that 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 children suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lives – and these numbers only correlate to those who are diagnosed.
The fact is that so many go undiagnosed, I myself know that I have suffered periods of my life where my mental health has been rocky. I have never been diagnosed with anxiety – but I know that I possess a lot of the typical anxious tendencies. I have never been diagnosed with depression – but I know that I have often gone through very dark periods of my life where depression may have been the cause. In a way, I do not want/have never wanted to be diagnosed. I have often seen a diagnosis worsen the mental health of an individual. As if the man becomes the label.
In my opinion, finding the help you need when you need it most is too difficult. When my housemate was suffering from severe multiple personality disorder and suicidal actions – culminating in a suicide attempt – she was taken to hospital and released within four hours. That was it. In a bittersweet way, I did not want my housemate to be released from the hospital when she was a danger to herself and others. I wanted her to be kept in the hospital, given the help she needed, monitored and passed onto a specialist/organisation who could help her in the long run. Unfortunately, she was not given this, and is now living on the streets – alone and suffering with severe mental illnesses, like many others.
We are extremely lucky in the UK to have the National Health Service, but the mental health services need to be better incorporated within patient care and throughout society as a whole. It is not enough to simply go to the doctors or psychiatrist and be shown the door with an Antidepressant and a ‘see how you go on these for a couple of weeks’. Mental illness is an ongoing problem and some suffer with life- long conditions, whether they are consciously aware of it or not. In my opinion, more money needs to be funded towards the charities whose main goal is to help those in need. Mental illness is just that…mental. It is YOUR brain and YOUR body and it is yours to regain control of, with or without the help of specialists. These types of charities help everyone, of all stages of mental health: It could be helping the man who has undertaken multiple suicide attempts, it could be helping the anxious woman with a job application or getting ready for an interview, or it could be having a chat with someone who is in fairly happy state of mind. The thing is, mental health and mental health workers are always associated with bad mental health and mental health illnesses, but they are there for everyone - if you are having a down day and need a little bit of help, there are people there.
Where I live, in East Sussex, the change is already happening. There are charities throughout the region that hold drop-in sessions, art classes, mindfulness classes and so on. These sessions are not just for people who have been referred by doctors. YOU can determine if you would like help or not, and you can take the first move in helping your mental health – however small you may think it is. Through long term client care, the patient can naturally take hold of their own lives again. They show their clients how to calm their anxiety, how to take steps in kicking depression in the face, or it could be just someone to talk to and a safe space to be themselves. A little step is better than nothing. No matter how small you think it may be, people are there to listen. No one should feel alone.
These charities exist throughout the country, but they need more support from the government and publicity to keep up their hard work. Please take a look at the some of the charities, groups and services involved in fighting the cause:
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