LOOKING AFTER YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
By Tracey Mullins
In recent times the subject of mental health has repeatedly hit the headlines. Over the past year, celebrities, royalty and politicians have been tripping over each other to ‘come out’ with their experiences of everything from depression and anxiety, to addiction and panic attacks.
The positive impact of these ‘celebrity revelations’ cannot be overstated. Barriers are coming down and prejudices about mental health issues are being challenged. Most notably, perhaps because we’re not used to members of the Royal Family speaking about their feelings, Princes William and Harry spoke movingly about their struggles with bereavement and the devastating impact the loss of their mother had on their lives. Prince Harry described how bottling up his feelings of anger and sadness, for almost two decades, resulted in chaos in both his professional and personal life and how this left him with feelings of anxiety. It was only when he finally sought counselling, almost two decades later, that he started to deal with his grief.
Talk to someone
When you’re struggling to cope with major events in your life such as death, divorce, redundancy, or financial difficulties which may be causing you mental health problems, talking to someone sympathetic is the key to finding appropriate help. It could be that none of these events have happened to you but you still feel sad and unable to find joy in life. You may be suffering from anxiety and not know the cause or you are unable to sleep or you can’t face the world. Feelings of sadness may have taken over your life to such an extent that you are in a state of despair. But who do you talk to? Who can you trust? Those closest to you: husband, wife, partner, adult children, or friends, may be your best first port of call as these are likely to be the people with whom you feel ‘safe’.
Respect and support
Revealing your feelings to another person may give you some relief and help you feel that you are not alone and that you have someone to support you on the road to recovery or management of your condition. Just the act of admitting out loud to another person that you’re not feeling fine and that you need help, may move you forward.
But perhaps you can’t even contemplate sharing your issues with those closest to you for fear of being judged, shunned or not taken seriously.
“I am a person. See me, not the illness”
Anyone suffering with a mental health problem is entitled to respect and has a right to expect their illness to be taken seriously. If, however, you are unlucky enough not to get the support and respect you need from the first person you tell, don’t give up. Never forget that you are entitled to speak to people who are not going to belittle your feelings and fears, and are ready to listen and respect your right to acknowledge your feelings.
Make an appointment with your GP
Your next step is to make an appointment to see your GP as soon as possible. Even if you are able to share your feelings with someone close, you should also consult your doctor for advice on what to do next. Friends and family can be a first great response in helping you to feel that you’re not alone, but they may not know how to help you move forward or know where to seek professional help. Your GP may:
- Make a diagnosis
- Offer you support and treatments
- Refer you to a specialist service
Informing yourself about what help is available
You could also go online and check out MIND www.mind.org.uk the leading mental health charity, or call their free helpline for advice: 0300 123 3393. MIND has a comprehensive website which describes the various symptoms of mental health illnesses and this could help you identify your particular problem(s). The website gives details of the characteristics of such things as anxiety and depression, drug and alcohol addiction, self-harm, dementia and schizophrenia. Make a list of the symptoms with which you identify so that you can take it with you when you see your GP. Be as open as you can with your doctor and try not to make light of your suffering. MIND also provides guidance about taking those first steps to get help; where to go and who to call.
Finding help when it’s an emergency
If you ever feel that you’ve reached a crisis point and you need to see someone urgently because you may do harm either to yourself or others, or have suicidal thoughts that you think you are likely to act upon, then you are experiencing a mental health emergency. Treat this as seriously as you would a physical health problem. The quickest route to receiving help is to go to a hospital Accident & Emergency department. If need be, call 999 and ask for an ambulance to take you there. It is a good idea to take someone with you, if you can, for support as you may have to wait awhile to be seen once you arrive. If, however, you need urgent support, but there’s no immediate danger to your safety or the safety of others, an Emergency GP appointment is an alternative option which you should be able to arrange by calling your local GP surgery. If you need urgent medical advice you can call: NHS 111 or NHS Direct (Wales) 0845 46 47.
It may be that having immediate access to someone who can listen to you talking about your feelings, is the best course of action for you. If this is the case, you could call the Samaritans on: Freephone 116 123 as they are available every day of the year for 24 hours a day. Listeners may be able to help you make sense of your situation and work out possible solutions and provide you with non-judgemental support.
The Film & Television Charity’s New Film & TV Support Line
Easier access to people who can give you immediate support or who can signpost you to the help you need, is the idea behind The Film & Television Charity’s new Film & TV Support Line which was launched in April (2018). This Freephone support line is available 24/7 to those working in the Film and Television industries.
The service offers confidential and independent support on a wide range of needs, including: mental health, stress, anxiety, debt, money management, harassment, bullying, legal concerns and so on. We can help you manage events and experiences in life which may trigger or exacerbate mental health problems. We can offer financial support too if criteria are met for a variety of situations. For instance, if you are unable to work due to health problems, including mental health issues, we may be able to provide financial support until you get back on your feet.
Jane (name changed for privacy) a writer and producer, suffered from mental health problems after a series of events led her into a downward spiral. Commenting on the support she received from us she said, “The Film & Television Charity were there for me when I was facing some of my darkest days. They helped me get back on track and allowed me time to piece my life back together again……. If you are facing mental health issues and need support or advice, please contact The Film & Television Charity”.
To meet our criteria for receiving funds you need to have worked in the Film and/or Television industries for at least two years (not necessarily consecutively).
You can choose to access the service in the way which suits you best via:
Freephone: 0800 054 00 00
Online chat via filmtvcharity.org.uk