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Don’t be an elf on the shelf – Speak up

At least once in our life we will suffer from a mental health issue, whether its anxiety, depression or an addiction. Our mental health is critical, and sometimes we never get real help, because it’s not always “seen”. The NHS is extremely underfunded when it comes to mental health services, we always hear of inpatient centres closing down, individuals waiting months and months for help and there aren’t enough mental health professions to help with these influxes.

My own experiences with mental health seem to be normal these days, when I was 12 I started to develop signs of depression, I was self harming, I was angry, I was struggling with food, I was isolated and I was suicidal, I went to my GP who referred me to CAMHS (Child mental health services), at my first appointment I spoke to a counsellor and after an hour of talking to her she said “Sorry there is nothing we can do for you, when your sad, go and make a cup of tea and have some biscuits” which is dreadful, I needed support, I needed someone to talk too and my only opportunity ended before it even started. Three months after that appointment I was back in the exact same room, because I tried to end my life, and they wanted to help, thankfully I had an amazing counsellor who did cognitive behavioural therapy with me, and she was amazing. My mental health has been a huge part of my life for the last seven or eight years, so I know when I need help, over the last few years I have been through some huge changes with my best friend passing away, my Nan passing away and other huge factors, when I went to my GP last, I explained that I would like to be referred to a CBT counsellor again but instead I was given 3 months of anti-depressants, as someone who doesn’t take medication of any kind (not even paracetamol) I found that this was unhelpful, and they seemed to give me this medication like it was a packet of sweets, should our NHS be doing this? Is this going to cause issues in the long run, are people on such a strong medication for no apparent reason, are people going to use this scheme to sell the drugs they are given? We don’t know, but if you do have an issue, tell the doctor, tell them you need to be referred, keep pestering them.

Mental health within men is on a high every year, one of the biggest killers of men under 35 is suicide, so why aren’t men getting proper support? In our society there is some sort of shame in men admitting that they’re not okay, from a young age men are taught that “boys don’t cry” and “man up”, which really affects their self esteem in later life. When boys and men appear to be depressed, suicidal or showing signs of any mental health issue or distress, we need to support them rather than make them feel 10 times smaller. We should stop telling boys and men that they’re not allowed to have feelings, or that they should man up because it’s dreadful and belittling when you’re at one of the most lowest points in your life! Instead of using the terms “man up” and “boys don’t cry” maybe talk to the individual, maybe seek help on their behalf or maybe support them. If you are a man / boy going through rough times and you’re torn on what to do, seek help, never feel ashamed, be honest and remember that it does get better!

I remember when the hurricanes happened in America, Theresa May gave them £5m (or something along those lines) and she had recently scrapped some mental health funding within the NHS, we have a crisis at home, as well as one happening abroad, although our issues aren’t always seen, they’re there and they need to be addressed.

If you, or yourself are struggling with your mental health, seek support. There are many helplines, organisations, charities and NHS run projects which can help you get back to square one. Here are a list of my top organisations that helped me during bad times:

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