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Author tells of campaign to get mental health taken more seriously


By Tia-Jane Coyle

A YORKSHIRE writer and businessman has spoken out about mental health stigma in the hope of encouraging other young people to do so.

Johnathan Lee suffered from severely debilitating bouts of depression, which is where his interest in mental health began. As well as writing a column about mental health every week in the Huffington Post, Jonathan has also written three popular novels.

He has also has been working alongside mental health charities like ReThink and Time To Change.

He said: “So many people today are afraid to talk about what’s in their head and heart. And when that happens it builds up inside of you and makes you feel helpless like you have no-one and nowhere to shift what you’re feeling.

“This is why I encourage anyone who feels like this to speak out because you might think you’re the only one and feel you’re on your own but you’re not. So many people feel the same every day.

“Twelve years ago my brother took his own life and I felt there was no support offered at the time and my family was left alone to cope with this tragedy.”

Jonathan is passionate about raising awareness and hopes to encourage more people to talk openly about the issues they might be experiencing. His third novel, A Tiny Feeling of Fear, about a popular businessman who sunk into anxiety and depression, was published in 2015.

In the UK, there is a rise in the number of young people suffering with mental health issues, from as young as the age of 12.

Over 2,000 people aged 16 to 25, polled by Princes Trust, revealed many had experienced a mental health problem, ranging from anxiety to more serious issues like severe depression.

Molly Hinde, 18 from Rugby first started showing obvious signs of mental health issues at around the age of 11, although she believes she has suffered from a younger age.

She said: “By the time I was 13 years old, I was diagnosed with clinical depression. I was very unwell and had already tried many suicide attempts, and minimal support from the local (CAMHS) community service meant I was not getting better.

“One day I was not allowed to come home from the hospital and was told I would be sectioned under the Mental Health Act if I did not come to the mental health unit willingly. I was then hospitalised in Park View Hospital in Birmingham for around six months, where initially I had to have someone with me 24/7.

“Whilst in hospital, I was also diagnosed with emerging borderline personality disorder, although there is no kind of treatment available until you reach 18. I went under intense therapies and drug trials, I continued my suicide attempts and even self-harmed but eventually I stopped being such a danger to myself.

“After being discharged I was not allowed to go anywhere without a guardian and had to have constant doctor appointments. I never found that any physiological therapies helped after I got out of hospital, so I found my own coping strategies and the right cocktail of drugs.

“Gradually I have become stronger and able to fight my urges which is enabling me to find happiness in life.  After five years of waiting for cognitive behavioural therapy to treat my borderline personality disorder, I was told I am no longer ill enough to qualify for this sort of therapy. But thankfully they have offered me a ‘managing emotional skills group’ which I have now started and finding helpful.”

She now works at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire training to be a nurse and hopes to help others by using the experiences she has been through herself to give advice.



 Expert View

Mandi Selby, 47, a recovery support worker at Hawkesbury Lodge Mental Health Rehabilitation and Recovery Unit shares her views on mental health today…

“My job is to help people enduring mental illness to regain their skills in personal hygiene, housework, and to become independent taking medication, with the view to go on to independent living with either education voluntary work or employment which they can maintain in the community.

 “In my opinion there is a big stigma involved with people who suffer with mental health as it cannot been seen in the same way as a physical illness and is little understood.

“It is an important aspect of a person’s wellbeing to look after the cognitive (which is the way people believe and their understanding of their own beliefs) perceptions of the individual, which is their feelings and emotions; having a good balance of mental and physical and emotional health which is the key to a good life.

“There is CAMHS (Children Adolescent Mental Health Service) which is available to help young people. Schools are now investing in maintaining health for children and when it comes to drugs, yes people are relying increasingly more on the use of drugs than pursuing counselling, therapy and self-help.

“Staff have learnt a lot of skills to help with maintaining good mental health, however working in mental health is a very stressful environment and even the best of nurses and healthcare workers suffer with depression or work related stress issues.”

What do you think?