This is my big brother John, or 'Jock', he does not have a split personality, just one, and it's loving and kind.
I was a young twenty-three year old graduate when I was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1976. I was told by clinicians that with every psychotic episode I had, I would go further into unreachable madness from which I would never recover.
The diagnosis was a death-sentence. Any thoughts of a future and a career were crushed by this awful mental illness and an equally awful assumption that my life would amount to nothing.
There was no presumption of capacity, no expectation that I would blossom like my friends around me who were getting on with their lives and forging successful careers. I felt irrelavant, and worse, invisible in the world. I describe it as walking in the shadows of others and casting none of my own. I was left with no identity, no sense of self and no hope. They were dark days.
Silence is the absence of noise, as peace is just the absence of war. Silence defined me for so long. It was a strategy and a symptom all rolled into one.
I do not want to be silent any more. I want to say all those things I could not in my youth.
It is a sobering fact that suicide is one of the most common causes of premature death among people with mental illness.
Loss caused by the suicide of a loved one with mental illness has a profound effect on families and friends. The bereaved often have to deal with a range of complex emotions including confusion, despair and anger both at themselves and at mental health services.
Last year I had the privilege of interviewing 31 people who had attempted suicide.
We talked about a range of issues, including the triggers that led them to feeling suicidal, support received (both helpful and unhelpful), the challenge of talking with others about their experience, and the progress they had made developing coping skills.
These interviews were the basis of Lessons for Life, a research report that highlights what helps and hinders people who attempt suicide. Throughout the process participants shared their invaluable insights into areas of critical importance, these included . . .
Every year, on 31 May we mark World No Tobacco Day, highlighting the health risks of smoking, and supporting policies to save lives by reducing the smoking rate.
A smoker’s belief about the perceived benefits of smoking will have an affect on their quit attempts. If you are worried your mental health will suffer when you quit smoking, read on, because I’m going to debunk two commonly-held myths.
The grief people experience due to mental illness and death by suicide raises very complex topics. Many participants in the SANE Mental Illness and Bereavement workshop are particularly interested in new ways of thinking – or ‘models’ – of grief, and challenging the old assumption that people should simply ‘move on’.
Little things go a long way to support a mentally healthy workplace.
When these little things occur regularly it demonstrates to employees that your organisation takes mental health seriously, it also encourages people to engage, buy-in and help create a mentally healthy workplace.