This week is Mental Health Awareness Week #MHAW17 and the theme is ‘Surviving or Thriving?’. Mental health is often an underlying reason to why people are referred to us. It is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem. (1)
For people facing crisis and who are isolated from a support network, their health and well-being is prone to decreasing. The poorer and more disadvantaged are disproportionately affected by common mental health problems and their adverse consequences. (2)
We interviewed our Project Worker, Fenna, about mental health and why this can be both a cause and an effect of crisis. Fenna has ten years’ experience of working with people suffering from mental health issues in various different settings, from psychiatric wards to social housing.
Why are people referred to First Love Foundation?
Our service is for people facing crisis. We define crisis as having no money and no food to support yourself and your dependents. Food crisis is the main issue for being referred but this is often as a result of other underlying issues which may have triggered mental and emotional problems. For example, debt, housing, unemployment, bereavement and family breakdown can all lead to an income shock, thus creating a food crisis.
What is the relationship between mental health and crisis?
I think it can become a negative cycle that can trap people. For example, the crisis may be due to an issue like a income delay or change, which may have a negative impact on someone’s mental health. It is this cycle, that can make a person vulnerable to experiencing food crisis again in the future if they are not able to seek and access the help they need.
How would you define good mental health?
Good mental health is about having an outlook in life that encourages healthy behaviours and relationships. I believe our mental health is closely related to our emotional, physical, and spiritual health. I believe a part of maintaining good mental health is being able to build resilience and also develop coping mechanisms that are not destructive.
What steps can we take to look after our mental health and build resilience to cope with the demands of life?
A lot of the time, mental health issues have occurred from circumstances that were beyond a person’s control. But I think there is hope of gaining back a meaningful life.
- At times, we need to deal with traumatic experiences that have happened in the past – this is where counselling, psychotherapy or the creative arts therapies can really help.
- The highly regarded Recovery Star Model is a good example of how mental health practitioners work with people to help aid their recovery. The holistic approach promotes the importance of having a balanced life in areas like work, physical health, friendship/relationships, spiritual life and education and helps to build resilience.
- Developing self-awareness and having a support network in place can help build our resilience to mental health issues. Having self-awareness can lead to us making healthy decisions about our life that can benefit our health & wellbeing.
What would you suggest for people who may be struggling with their mental health?
Depending on the condition and the severity of it, I would advise that they go and see their GP for advice as soon as possible. There are a range of therapies available to help unpick the triggers and begin the road to recovery, examples are counselling, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and the creative therapies. People can also find huge benefits through their faith and this can be the hope at the end of the tunnel for some. Where the mental health crisis could be serious or life threatening, where immediate help is needed, there are crisis helplines like Mind and locally based Community Mental Health Teams (GPs can refer people to), who are there to help.
Donate now to help the people we meet thrive, instead of just survive. Your donations help us to support those facing crisis build a more stable and hopeful future. Read Alfred’s story to find out how we help.
For more information about Mental Health, visit the Mental Health Foundation website.
To contact the Mind Info Helpline for advice and support – call 0300 123 3393 or text 86463
- McManus S, Bebbington P, Jenkins R, Brugha T. (eds.) (2016) Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014. Leeds: NHS Digital. Available at: http://content.digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB21748/apms-2014-full-rpt.pdf [Accessed 5 October 2016]
- Patel V, Lund C, Hatherill S, Plagerson S, Corrigall J, Funk M, & Flisher AJ. (2010). Mental disorders: equity and social determinants. Equity, social determinants and public health programmes, 115.