World Mental Health Day 2019
Content Warning: Suicide
The 10th of October is World Mental Health Day, an annual initiative started by the World Federation for Mental Health to raise awareness and empower positive change. This year, the theme is suicide prevention.
According to the World Health Organisation, suicide accounts
for over 800,000 deaths a year worldwide, translated to a death every 40 seconds. However, it is preventable, and this year World Mental Health Day is focusing on how to provide support systems, reach out, destigmatise, and prevent deaths by suicide.
The social media campaign #40Seconds is encouraging people to take ‘40 seconds of action’ today. This can take many forms – like educating yourself about suicide prevention methods, helping to spread awareness and break taboos around this issue, or reaching out to a friend who may be struggling. We’re taking part and we invite you all to read about some of the resources we’ve compiled below that may help.
Knowing Your Resources
One key aspect to keep in mind today is awareness of resources – places where you can find a listening ear and support if you’re struggling, or that you can recommend to someone you’re worried about. Our Resources page has compiled a lot of different organisations that might be helpful, but we wanted to highlight a few here. These organisations all provide helplines where you or a loved one can speak to trained volunteers and find support.
The Samaritans helpline or email service is open to all, as is the crisis text line at Shout. For those under 35, Papyrus offers the Hopeline UK; The Mix provides a crisis messenger for anyone under 25, and Childline specialises in supporting children and young people under 19. CALM is specifically tailored to men, while the LGBT Helpline Scotland offers support for any members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Sometimes the best thing to do is reach out and talk to someone, and these helplines are ready and waiting if you need them.
If you or someone you know has experienced suicidal thoughts, writing a safety plan that you can turn to at a crisis point can be very helpful. A safety plan can include taking note of warning signs to watch out for, making coping strategies to divert negative thoughts, keeping a list of helplines and emergency services, planning how to get to a safe environment or how to make your current environment as safe as possible, or listing important reasons to live. This can be done in advance of a suicidal episode or serve as a grounding point during one: Papyrus has a safety plan template for crisis moments.
The best advice if you are worried about someone is usually to talk to them, let them know they’re not alone and that they can open up to you. Samaritans have some excellent resources for how to have difficult conversations using the ‘SHUSH’ method: Show you care, Have patience, Use open questions, Say it back, Have courage. Follow the link to find out more.
“We need to look not only inward at ourselves, but outward at society to change it for the better. ”
If you are going through a dark time, we encourage you to talk to someone you trust or to a helpline like those above. You are not alone and it’s okay to open up about how you’re feeling.
That said, the onus is not just on the person who’s struggling. We need to campaign for better support systems, accessible healthcare, and destigmatisation of mental health issues. Structural systems of inequality as well as societal pressures contribute greatly to mental health struggles and that has to be addressed. We need to look not only inward at ourselves, but outward at society to change it for the better.