Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Protecting our mental health

Statistics say one in four of us will experience mental illness at some time. I've been one of the four and know how much stigma there is attached to mental illness. It's a difficult subject for many to talk about or even acknowledge.

Mental breakdown can happen at any time of the day or night. That's why we need bigger budgets for mental health, we need mental health support in the evenings and at weekends too. We need more cognitive behavioural therapists, more community psychiatric nurses, more mental health social workers. One Saturday last year I called out the community mental health team to help a relative who was psychotic. I phoned at 7 a.m. and it was 4.30 pm before anyone arrived. There was only one mental health social worker on duty that day in the whole of Kent. There were no beds available locally. There is no mental health unit for people under 60 and the nearest one is 20 miles away. Yes we must raise awareness of mental illness and take the stigma out of it but we also have to protect the next generation. This means talking to young children at school and helping them to look after their mental health by good diet and exercise and a healthy lifestyle. We need more people to read Dr Alex Richardson's ground breaking book They Are What You Feed Them we need more people to log on to http:///www.fabresearch.org a site looking at the links between food and behaviour.
Also we need more people to log on at http://www.time-to-change.org.uk It's in our hands to look after our own mental health, we are facing an epidemic of mental illness, we must act before it is too late.

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