We should never stop talking about suicide or mental health | Rebecca Jane column

Let’s start by saying we shouldn’t need an ‘awareness day’ to talk about suicide, we should talk about it frequently.

Wednesday, 8th September 2021, 12:30 pm
Rebecca Jane

The harsh reality is that we do need an awareness day because stigma within mental illness is still very much alive.

Do I believe the current suicide public statistics are correct? No. Period. I often apologise for my rants, but here comes one I won’t be apologising for.

Each year I watch certain organisations champion how mental illness is reducing, waiting times are reducing and people are being put into recovery.

I’ve worked in this industry for three years, and I wholeheartedly say the true picture of mental illness is very different than what the public are led to believe.

Earlier this year, I sat and listened to management professionals within mental health tell me that waiting times for counselling were almost non-existent and there is no ‘waiting list for therapy’.

Then I told them what I KNOW. I don’t just sit and review statistics in an office, I work in mental health. I triage patients and place them into therapy. I have been in this role and in similar capacities for over three years.

I KNOW that I saw a 522% rise in people that were suicidal from December 2020 until May 2021.

I KNOW that waiting times were so extensive (up to 14 months) that I facilitated an emergency NHS contract to deliver therapy.

I SAW 17% of people entirely fall through the cracks in the system, who were severely mentally unwell and failed to be able to access ANY therapy services.

I KNOW that 52% of the 250+ people I saw from December 2020 until March 2021 felt they were ‘better of dead’ more than half of the days, every single week.

If anyone wants to tell me this country does not have extensive mental health waiting lists, a service provision that is exceptional and our statistics are in decline - I would love a conversation, because I won’t just rant at them. I will prove them entirely wrong.

The true picture of mental health in this country is abysmal and not fit for purpose.

It’s time we addressed the fact that there is more than one way to treat mental illness, or rather the very limited options currently out there!

We can fix mental illness with access to more types of therapy, different modalities - CBT and talking therapy will always have a place, but so will transactional analysis, attachment based therapy, art therapy, sound therapy, gestalt and NLP (to name a few).

Then if we want to go into the world of well-being, yoga, gym memberships, life coaching and spirituality, they all have a huge role to play in helping people understand and recover from mental illness. Sadly, as a nation, we’re still lightyears behind where we should be in the variety of services available to offer NHS patients.

We all have a role to play in lowering statistics and helping those around us. Those roles vary from lending a listening ear to a friend that may be struggling, to actively campaigning and delivering services. We should NEVER stop talking about the harsh realities of suicide and what it is like to be mentally unwell.

This suicide prevention day, a new charity launches in Burnley. TRIBE.

TRIBE offers free counselling to anyone who needs it and they give away free annual private mental health policies to people who find themselves in an unexpected time of crisis.

If you know someone that has had a sudden death in their family, suffered a traumatic experience, lost someone to suicide or experienced a death in any other way, feel free to nominate them to receive a free policy from TRIBE. That is not an extensive list of people TRIBE help, just a couple of examples.

Their policies give people eight sessions of counselling, per problem, per year. 90% of people are seen within seven days and there are 24 hour helplines for legal, financial, medical and family emergencies.

The truth is any of our lives could change tomorrow. We could lose someone close to us, or see a traumatic event and we wouldn’t know where to turn. TRIBE aims to change that.

If you are struggling, or know someone who is. You can find out about the services of TRIBE, request counselling or nominate someone to receive a free policy on their website: www.yourtribe.org.uk.

This time next year, I truly hope I am writing a far more positive article than this.

The truth surrounding mental illness in the UK is ugly and harsh. That doesn’t mean I’ll shy away from voicing the truth, because as humans, it’s the least we can do.