This World Health Day, Let’s talk About Mental Health in the UK

Photo credit: wocintechchat.com

“I used to like meeting with friends but I no longer feel like seeing anyone”

“I’m not good enough”

“When my partner is asleep, I stay up and do the things that make me happy”

Here are some of the things Chayn has heard from women over the years. According to WHO’s latest estimates, 300 million people are now coping with depression worldwide, with an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015.

At Chayn, our mission is to support all self-identifying women in living and leading happy and healthy lives, so this World Health Day we want to shine a spotlight on the importance of mental well being — the often silent outcome of abusive relationships.

Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) has launched its “Depression: Let’s Talk” campaign, created after the organisation found depression to be the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. Depression now causes more ill health than widespread ailments like malaria — and yet, we’re still not talking about it.

WHO claims that fear of stigma has a large role to play in this rise, a barrier that could be removed with the right conversations in place.

Over the course of our work, we often see mental health issues to be a significant outcome of abusive relationships but sadly, these issues can be overlooked. Especially depression. When we think about domestic abuse, physical violence is usually the first kind that comes to mind. However, abusive relationships can also lead to emotional, sexual and financial harm, all of which negatively impact on the person’s mental health. More disturbingly, emotional trauma can often be the hardest to overcome.

NGO’s supporting women need to be aware of these risks, and if in-house resources are not available, know where and when to refer people to professional medical support. That’s why this World Health Day, we’re calling for open dialogue about mental health and are sharing resources that can help to both identify symptoms, and provide guidance for when and where to seek support.

Photo credit: Matthew Henry, unsplash.com

It is extremely disappointing that the social stigma surrounding mental health continues to prevent people from accessing the right support and medical care they deserve. So, we take this opportunity to encourage our peers, volunteers and readers to reach out to your friends, family members and loved ones, to begin open conversations about emotional wellbeing.

Start by asking a family member to sit down for a coffee and a catch-up, or by sending the women in your WhatsApp group a voice note to share a genuine reflection on how you’ve been doing lately, and asking them to each do the same. By having these kinds of transparent conversations — reflecting honestly on our ups and our downs — we can begin conversations that could help someone we know (or ourselves) to identify symptoms and ultimately seek professional help.

Whether you know someone who has been affected by an abusive relationship, or you believe, like us, that the stigma surrounding mental health needs to end, please begin by sitting down with friends and family and talking. By facing these sometimes difficult conversations head on and being there to listen, you could help someone you know get the professional support they might need, and most importantly, deserve.

For more information and support, NGOs and individuals can visit the following websites:

  • Samaritans for 24-hours per day confidential, emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts
  • Depression Alliance for information and support on depression from Mind
  • Snap Counsellors providing discreet relationship abuse counselling via Snapchat
  • The PSHE Association’s Mental Health Guidance for a resource to use for teaching and providing support to children and young people surrounding mental health
  • National Self-Harm Network for support and information on self-harm
  • Anxiety UK for support and information regarding anxiety, panic attacks and phobias
  • Beat for support and information regarding eating disorders
  • OCD UK for support and information regarding obsessions and compulsions

This blog post was written by Chayn volunteer, Olivia Jardine. You can reach Olivia on twitter @olivia_jardine