Mind

Did World Mental Health Day Get Everybody Talking?

Indeed we Irish are entering the final hours of World Mental Health Day. Hopefully, it’s opened up a dialogue amongst the greater public who probably weren’t surprised to hear that one in four of us will experience a mental health issue in our lifetime. One if four of us were also sexually abused as children, so you’d be forgiven for presuming there’s a link. Hey, it can’t all be recipes and reviews; this here is the shit that matters and one of the main reasons this blog exists.

There are also a lot of other factors contributing / intrinsically linked to the rampant mental health issues in this little island of ours; alcoholism (in all its forms), our inability to share beyond chatter about the weather (unless there’s alcohol involved), and the FUCKING WEATHER.

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What we do know is that talking helps. A lot. Something so small can make such a HUGE difference. Unfortunately, however – as previously mentioned – this country doesn’t believe in talking. They believe in medicating. You can see a psychiatrist in Cluain Mhuire for free, yet there’s no government subsidised form of actual therapy. CBT, Psychotherapy, Counselling… it’s all “private.” There is no public version of it available.

There is also no tiered mental health system in place either, but that’s not exactly a revelation. Therapy in the right environment for your condition (unlike what is still happening today; drug them up and put them all in the same place until we figure out what to do) is what gives you the tools to cope with your life for the rest of your life. Dare I say it; it leads you on the path to even enjoying life.

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So, today, on World Mental Health Day / Budget Day, has this government provided a chink of light for the end of the tunnel? Not really… “The Department of Health will have a budget of almost €15.3 billion next year, however, doctors have described Budget 2018 as ‘deeply disappointing and regressive’ from a health perspective” – IrishHealth.com… Depressing, isn’t it… The Irish Times, meanwhile, devoted an entire line specifically to mental health services and just how much that sector is getting in the grand scheme of things; it stands “to receive €35 million more in funding next year.” Given my experience of the mental health “services” in this country courtesy of a year attending Burton Hall (rammed, rundown, chronically understaffed…), that’d be the proverbial drop in the surging ocean.

The depressing truth is that whatever government is in power, they are only ever interested in individuals who vote consistently, therefore “screw all the nutjobs in the house on the hill, what are they contributing to society??” Eh, quite a bit, if you let us.

In the meantime, let’s look at the positives – we now have a World Mental Health Day. If there was one of those back in the 90s when I was a teenager grappling with panic attacks in the middle of Grafton Street, I wouldn’t have felt so isolated and freaked to the point of craving oblivion (booze) at any opportunity… If you know or think you know someone dealing with Mental Health issues, please ask them to talk to you about it. Don’t shut them down, tell them to get on with it, or – worse – ignore it ’cause you don’t want to make things fierce awks. Just ask them how they’re doing. I remember once, my now brother-in-law asked me how to describe “how panic attacks felt.” And it meant the world.

Talk. Just talk.

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