Editorials / English / Francesca Nottola

EDITORIAL: Mental health is everyone’s concern

©2015 Francesca Nottola

September is Suicide Awareness Month and 10th September 2015 was World Suicide Prevention Day. The World Health Organisation statistics about suicide rates in the world show that suicide, despite affecting mostly low and middle-income countries (75% of global suicides in 2012), is a global phenomenon and it ‘accounted for 1.4% of all deaths worldwide, making it the 15th leading cause of death in 2012’.

Government statistics for the United Kingdom show that males of all ages seem to be the most affected. Not surprisingly, ‘the 2014 report published by the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by people with mental illness highlights that higher suicide rates from 2008 have been widely reported and linked to the economic crisis’.

Much has been done by British charities and the NHS to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and to remove the stigma around those who are most affected. Despite common belief, the boundary between ‘mentally healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ may be harder to draw than we think. No one is immune from mental health issues, despite the illusions created on social media by carefully crafted film-styled existences. In many cases there may be genetic predisposition, in other cases there may not be, and mental illness can be related to specific circumstances instead. What matters is that, beyond the immense work carried out by charities and NHS workers and researchers, this remains an urgent issue to be tackled by society as well, by us individually, every day.

Despite claims of commitment to the cause, the British government, with its determined and consistent policy of underfunding of the National Health Service and of welfare support, is directly responsible for the dramatic worsening of the condition of many of the most vulnerable citizens. Those suffering from mental illness, struggling with addiction or with finding work and ways to support themselves are the most affected: the many homeless citizens, for example, or those disabled citizens who have been declared ‘fit for work’.

This is an urgent issue that cannot be dealt with only by charities and the most sensitive and committed people in the NHS. There has to be a change in people’s attitudes. We need to learn to see beyond the borders of our own needs and reach out to our friends or acquaintances that we know might be struggling for one reason or another.

Don’t be shy if you need help, we all do, sooner or later, at different times. Look for those people who have shown they are willing to listen and help. Ask for help, there’s nothing wrong with it, we are only human. And if in your real-life social network you are not able to find support and comfort, well, then check out these pages below and just make a phone call. These people are there to listen and are trying to do their best to help:

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Suicide/Pages/Getting-help.aspx

http://www.tasc-uk.org/feeling-suicidal.

This post is dedicated to all those who are struggling to cope in this cruel, competitive and very often cynical society, which is made up by each one of us. It’s us that make this society cruel and cynical, so let’s think about our attitudes and let’s change. Let’s not expect problems to be solved by others, we can do a lot everyday with every small act of kindness and generosity.

Sources:

http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suicideprevent/en/

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/405411/Statistical_update_on_suicide_acc.pdf

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/suicide-prevention-second-annual-report

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Suicide/Pages/Getting-help.aspx

http://www.tasc-uk.org/feeling-suicidal

https://www.iasp.info/wspd/index.php

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