‘All of us are affected by mental health issues at some stage in life’

editorial image

One in ten adults living in Wakefield are diagnosed with depression and 200 of our children are admitted to hospital every year due to self-harm.

Those were the figures revealed in the 2017 public health report for Wakefield, which put the spotlight on the mental health of residents.

The district’s former Director of Public Health Andrew Furber, who compiled the report, said: “All of us will be affected by mental health issues at some point during our lives, if not directly, then by knowing a family member, friend of colleague who is experiencing difficulties.

“Whilst providing good treatment and care for those with mental illness is vital, it is just as important that we take steps to promote positive mental health.”

The report highlighted risk factors that can lead to mental illness, as well as what can be done to boost mental health and wellbeing.

Poverty and deprivation, drug and alcohol use and loneliness are all associated with poor mental health, whilst social and physical activity and employment are ‘protective’ factors which can help boost wellbeing.

Coun Pat Garbutt, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for adults and health, said: “One of the biggest challenges is knowing who is suffering. Not everybody shows obvious signs of poor mental health.

“It is looking at how we reach those people who are the most vulnerable.”

Part of Wakefield Council’s public health role is to look at what can be done to reduce the risk factors of poor mental health, putting in place schemes to tackle things like poverty, suicide rates and social isolation and commissioning programmes to support healthy lifestyle and workplace wellbeing. It also helps people to take action to boost their own mental health. Anna Hartley, the interim director for public health, said: “Mental health often touches on other things, so it’s important to look at the whole picture.

“There’s a lot of fear about people opening up about their mental health but we are helping people to understand that there are support options out there to help.”

Wakefield Council’s chief executive Merran McRae said: “Our mental health is just as important as our physical health as it influences our ability to lead a fulfilling life and impacts on our ability to learn, to work and pursue leisure interests.

“Two thirds of adults say that they have experienced mental ill health at some point in their lives.

“Fortunately we can all take action to ensure that help is provided and support is accessed at the earliest possible opportunity. We all have a part to play.”

FIVE WAYS TO WELLBEING

The council is encouraging people to do these five things to reduce their risk of developing a mental health problem. The Five Ways to Wellbeing aims to improve the mental health and wellbeing of the whole population...

1. CONNECT - spend time developing relationships with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours to help you feel close to and valued by other people

2. TAKE NOTICE - be aware of the present moment, your thoughts and feelings and the world around you to enhance your wellbeing

3. BE ACTIVE - find a physical activity you enjoy and make it a part of your life to reduce the risk of anxiety and depression

4. GIVE - carry out small acts such as a smile, thank you or kind word, or larger acts such as volunteering to help others and make you happier

5. KEEP LEARNING - develop new skills to gain a sense of achievement, confidence and self-esteem.

TIME TO CARE

The Express Time to Care is highlighting the reasons why there is a need to care, looking at issues affecting people in our communities and the work being done to address them.

We cannot end the struggles that many in our district are facing but together, showing kindness and compassion, our little gestures can make a difference.

Our campaign is backing the Fia Not Campaign, a community group set up in memory of Sophia Theobald who took her own life last year after a struggle with anxiety and depression.

Itt aims to provide a network of practical and social support, signpost individuals to services that are available, and challenge issues in the current mental health support system.

It also plans to set up a safe house, a haven for those struggling with poor mental health, including those at crisis point.

l Get involved in our campaign by telling us what you are doing to help others - email editorial@wakefieldexpress.co.uk.

25% - over a year, the proportion of people nationally that experience symptoms of mental illness

200 - the number of children in Wakefield admitted to hospital each year due to self-harm

1 in 7 - the proportion of adults in Wakefield recorded as having anxiety and depression

£105bn - the estimated cost of mental health in England per year

25-30 - the number of suicides in the district each year

50% - the amount of adult mental illnesses that start before the age of 15

2,192 - the number of children in need in Wakefield due to abuse, neglect or family dysfunction

2,306 - the number of the district’s adults in aclohol and drug recovery

15 - - research suggests social isolation as as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day