I work in the field of youth work and specialise in emotional well-being and mental health. This often means I’m more immune to the ‘shock and horror’ of some news headlines, statistics and personal stories.
It doesn’t mean I don’t care, it just means I’ve built a system in my mind and heart where I don’t find certain things as hard-hitting or surprising as others perhaps would. You could say I’ve become more resilient in this field and wear my work ‘hat’, just like others do in their own professions.
However, last week was different.
Last week I found out that a young person I knew had tried to take her own life.
It wasn’t the first individual I’d personally known who’d harmed themselves or tried to take their own life – but it did knock me more than other scenarios had in the past.
It’s never easy to hear of someone is so overwhelmed and is in so much pain that they felt ending their life was the only answer. Even when I’m wearing my work ‘hat’, it triggers a deep sadness within me.
This time it reminded me just how much work we still need to do in helping people of all ages know that in times of deep anguish – suicide is not the only option. It makes me want to scream ‘support is out there and you are loved’ to the entire world.
On this occasion, I know she is under the care of the local CAMHS team and has a family who love her. I have confidence that she will get better and over time she will thrive in life.
Yet, it was a sobering reminder of just how important it is that we break the negative stigma around suicide and mental illness as a whole.
As a youth worker and as someone who’s considered taking their own life before, we must continue to strive forward; breaking the deafening silence and campaigning for better support and education around mental health illnesses.
Whatever field of work you are in – whether you are a parent, a teacher or someone who works in a completely different field – let’s create a culture that says it’s ok to not be ok.
To get you started, here’s three things you and I can do:
1. Become more educated on the topic.
This could be reading credible articles online and/or signing up to attend local training events. Mind, Heads Together and The Mental Health Foundation are some suggestions.
2. Pause and check in with ourselves.
Take a moment to think about our own mental health. How are we doing? Could we benefit from additional support? Or are we actually doing ok and just need to monitor ourselves.
3. Take up opportunities to have our say.
On 04/12/17 the government published a green paper about what they want to do to help children and young people with their mental health. They want to hear from everyone so take a moment to fill in the consultation.
If you or someone you know needs support then please contact the Samaritans on
Phone: 116 123 Email: email@example.com Website: www.samaritans.org