Mental health: It’s time to mind yer heid

Mental health has never been more important than now and it’s crucial you and your pals know you’re not alone. Stormzy to Lewis Capaldi, even the biggest stars in the world are taking the time to mind their mental health and wellbeing.

Feeling anxious or overwhelmed, to symptoms of depression or other mental health conditions: It’s important to know you are not alone. In fact, one in four people will experience mental ill health in a single year.

After the traumatic and turbulent year we’ve already had, it’s no surprise if you’re feeling less than 100 per cent.

“For many young people the changes you will have experienced will involve loss,” emphasises the Minister for Mental Health Clare Haughey.

“From missing friends or family, loss of freedom; or some of you may have encountered traumatic events that threatened your sense of safety, some may have lost family members. This is likely that there will be a need for increased mental health support now that you have returned to school.”

And everyone can experience mental ill health. It doesn’t discriminate. The only discrimination faced around mental health conditions is the longstanding stigma. As more people open up and share their experiences, the discrimination, lack of education and stigma is eradicated.

Depression in Grime

A true gamechanger in the world of grime, Stormzy has changed the landscape of mental health, too. Speaking to Channel 4 in 2017 about the release of Gang Signs & Prayer, Stormzy expressed: “For a long time I didn’t understand depression, I didn’t get it. It’s easy to dismiss. It was a realisation of how fragile we are as humans.

“I always saw myself as this strong person that would just get on with life, we march on. When I went through what I went through I felt stuck. To the world I still want to be strong Mike, I want to be Stormzy. And If there’s anyone out there going through [depression], I think that for them to see that I went through it would help.”

The anxiety

Lewis Capaldi has also been open in the past about his anxiety whilst performing. Life in lockdown saw America’s Sweetheart turn to a cognitive behavioural therapist to overcome the crippling anxiety and panic attacks he felt during his last tour.

“My anxiety was pretty bad just before lockdown,” Lewis has revealed. “I did a big arena tour in the UK and Ireland and every night before I went on stage, I was having really bad anxiety and panic attacks.

“When lockdown came, it was a bit bittersweet. Obviously, I had all these shows planned but at the same time, I had really heightened anxiety. This has given me time to speak to a CBT therapist and get a handle on it.”

And, Lewis is not alone in feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Mabel had a triumphant 2019, and going into
2020 her star is just shining brighter, even so, the Don’t Call Me Up star has had to work on her confidence and own experiences of anxiety.

Speaking to Source, Mabel said: “The battle with anxiety is a journey I’ve been on through my whole life. It’s about not pretending that everything’s great, because actually sometimes you just have to feel the bad days. If today’s a bad day, tomorrow will be better and rather than pushing that away, communicate with people; it’s all about being open and honest and not being ashamed.”

A diagnosis

Honesty around how you’re feeling is imperative – it is also the hardest step. George Ezra recently opened up about his own experiences of mental health and his journey to receiving a diagnosis for his obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD); receiving a clinical diagnosis of Pure O was a moment George didn’t realise he so desperately needed.

Pure O, or purely obsessional, can leave people experiencing mental compulsions that they are unaware of, unlike physical compulsions Pure O can make identifying compulsions challenging. For George, who believes he has lived with Pure O since childhood, the compulsions he experienced from childhood into adulthood began to become negative and taboo.

During BBC 5 Live’s podcast How do You Cope?, George explains: “I heard about [Pure O] and instantly there wasn’t a doubt in my mind. I said, ‘That’s it. That’s what’s going on. That’s what I’m experiencing.’ In hindsight, this is something that I had my whole life.”

And learning more about OCD left George feeling less isolated and realising that he is not a ‘freak’.

George emphasises: “The only reason I talk about it publicly is because I’m loosely aware of the idea that somebody hearing me talk about this might be helpful.”

Tiny change makers

One charity working to ensure you have your voice heard whilst advocating for early access to mental health support is Tiny Changes.

Founded after Frightened Rabbit frontman, Scott Hutchison, died by suicide, Tiny Changes was launched in his memory and to promote the importance of early intervention.

“Talking and listening is vital on every level and for every person – it simply makes the wheels of life go round. ‘No man is an island’ yet so many children and young people have felt isolated and alone during lockdown and beyond,” emphasises Neil and Marion Hutchison, trustees of Tiny Changes and Scott’s mother and brother.

Minister Haughey agrees: “Early intervention and prevention makes a big difference to the risk of developing mental health problems now and into the future. This will help you understand what you’re feeling, why you’re feeling this way, and how to overcome and build resilience. Mental health is something we have to talk about to reduce stigma and promote early action.”

And Tiny Changes are giving you that voice to share what you have experienced in lockdown all the way to how you want mental health support to change.

Marion and Grant continue: “Through our various channels, we are giving children and young people a voice, to talk about their lives, tell what they are doing and how they are feeling. To give you the chance to raise awareness of what changes could happen to make your lives better.”

Supporting your peers, joining the Tiny Changes Board of Trustees, to continuing the positive hobbies you have picked up in lockdown, there are ways to care for your mental wellbeing.

“We’re encouraging people to continue with any new habits created during lockdown that helped you to feel better. Do at least one thing every day that makes you feel better, no matter how big or how small that is,” enthuses Minister Haughey.

Crafts, reading, going out for a run or playing sports with your friends, to simply having a bath and stepping away from social media for one hour: Tiny changes in your life can have a significantly positive impact on your mental health and wellbeing.

Are you ok?

Mental health conditions can affect people in different ways, but there are some signs to be aware of if you are concerned about yourself, a friend or someone in your family.

• Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies or things that used to bring a person joy

• Trouble sleeping or over sleeping

• Changes in eating habits, just like sleep this can include eating less or eating more

• Anger and irritability towards friends, family, school or other seemingly normal objectives or tasks

• Loss of confidence and experiencing negative thoughts

• In some instances, a person may experience suicidal thoughts or ideologies.

It’s important to reach out to a teacher if you are worried you or someone you know has expressed self-harm or suicidal thoughts.

Asking one simple question can ensure the people you love know they can turn to you if and when they need support.

So, how are you today?

Here to help

Support is available by calling ChildLine on 0800 1111. In an emergency call Samaritans for free on 116 123, or 999. Become a Tiny Change Maker by connecting with the team at Tiny Changes.

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