As a mental health advocate, I read A LOT about mental illness and mental health issues. I actually have “Google Alerts” set up up for the following terms: mental health, mental illness, depression, anxiety, bipolar and suicide. Every day, I receive an e-mail with the latest headlines concerning these topics. I usually spend about 30 minutes to an hour each day reading and staying current on the latest news about treatment, advocacy, resources, celebrity stories, personal accounts and more.
Today, I thought I would share with you some of the things I’ve been reading this week and my commentary about it. Feel free to comment below with your own thoughts about these subjects!
This article made me frustrated because it is another example of how there isn’t sufficient local resources in my province for mental healthcare. The author, Peter Goffin, writes about how youth are losing access to resources once they turn 18 and do not have consistency in the care they receive when they “age out” of the system. Services for youth are also markedly different, with youth often receiving more compassionate treatment from medical professionals. Once the youth lose access to the treatment, they are in transition and looking for new care. According to the article, “over 50 per cent of young people simply stop seeking treatment during this transition period.” And some of them only get access to services afterwards in times of crisis. This just reinforces my frustration with the system – there isn’t enough resources across the board, but I find particularly for adults there is a lack of support. There is currently a huge focus on early diagnosis and treatment, which is very crucial. However, with such a focus on youth, adults are often left out in the cold or slip through the cracks. We need to find ways to make sure people can receive the right care at any age and that they don’t have to wait for months or even years to get it.
This is a short but sweet news item. Apparently St. John’s Ambulance will be incorporating mental health into their first aid training, the healthcare organization whose mission is to “enable Canadians to improve their health, safety and quality of life by providing training and community service.”
This is really exciting news because it will raise awareness of how people can directly support those with mental illness in the community. They will be given practical and concrete tools on addressing symptoms and providing relief. It will help decrease stigma because people will better understand mental illness and how it affects a person physically and mentally. I haven’t taken first aid in a while – but now I am definitely considering it!
“When people get up and move, even a little, they tend to be happier than when they are still, according to an interesting new study that used cellphone data to track activities and moods.” This is the result of a new study out of University of Cambridge in England. It has always been told to me that exercise can help in the treatment of mental illness, so the results of this study come as no surprise. Lately, I’ve been trying hard to exercise a little bit to help elevate my mood. It really does work! The only thing is that when you are depressed, it can take a lot of energy to get out of bed, let alone get dressed, put on a sports bra and get to a gym. That’s why it would be great to try to incorporate exercise in small ways in your life – even just going on a short walk around the block can help. I’m lucky that I have a complimentary gym in my building, but there are plenty of ways to exercise for free. There are a lot of YouTube videos and online resources. I’ve been meaning to try out Yoga with Adriene – I’ve heard really good things.
It’s always interesting for me to learn about the state of mental healthcare in other parts of the world. Reading about how people with mental illness are viewed and treated in China was eye-opening. In China, people with mental illness are often treated as dangers to society. This article tells the story of a woman who was forced into hospitalization in order to prevent disrupting an important political event. According to the article, there is a huge stigma in China – people with mental illness are seen as being possessed by evil spirits and mental illness is often seen as a sign of weakness or as “socially contagious”. Thus, people with mental illness are often treated far away from home or kept hidden from public. Interestingly, the psychiatric system was drastically reduced after the Communists took control in 1949. Apparently under Chairman Mao, people who showed signs of depression were often seen as “traitors to the socialist cause” because they weren’t filled with enthusiasm. There aren’t enough doctors in the country. In 2014, China had about 23,000 psychiatrists—1.7 for every 100,000 people.
Luckily, things are changing and the government is making more of an effort. There is an increase in resources available, such as community mental health centres, And in 2012, the Chinese government passed its first mental health law. The bill was meant to increase facilities, staff and awareness of mental illness in schools and workplaces. It also prohibited confining people with mental illness involuntarily.
As a mental health advocate, it’s important to understand mental healthcare across the globe so we can see how it can be improved at home and how we can measure our successes. As well, in global society, it’s important to care about people other than those within our own borders. I would love to speak to mental health advocates in China – in fact, I am making it a goal to do so in the next few months.
That’s it for today! Are there any news articles that you have read lately about mental health that intrigued you? Tell me in the comments below! I love everything on The Mighty so feel free to check them out as well. An amazing mental health blog that I inspire to emulate.