10th Oct 2019
Every year the World Health Organisation (WHO) recognises World Mental Health Day on October 10th. This year’s theme, which was set by the World Federation for Mental Health, is suicide prevention. The reason? To raise awareness of mental health issues around the world, in the hope of mobilising efforts to support people experiencing these illnesses.
The day provides a valuable opportunity for stakeholders across the world, from governments to local authorities, to those suffering from mental health issues themselves, to unify and talk about their work, their struggles and what more needs to be done to make mental health support accessible for all.
According to the WHO, 800,000 people die every year from suicide, and what’s more staggering is that the WHO has calculated that this equates to someone every 40 seconds. As many of you know, our work revolves around supporting families across Sussex who are facing challenging and difficult circumstances. It’s through this work we know that the sad fact is this statistic isn’t just isolated to adults, it’s also on the rise amongst children, as a result of violence in the home, bullying and cyberbullying.
In 2017-2018, 65% of the parents we supported were suffering with a mental health issue, and another 26% of families had recent experience of domestic violence. Over the last year (2018-2019) the number of parents we supported with mental health issues increased to 77%. Families were referred to us for a number of reasons, but the most common causes included mental health issues; debt and financial hardship, domestic abuse and relationship breakdown.
Sarah, one of our parents, came to us after her husband died in a tragic accident. She had three young children and was struggling to get up in the morning and to care for her children:
“When my husband died, I didn’t want to carry on with life. The children had lost their Dad and I had no idea how to help them. You’ve been amazing to us. You came at just the right time and helped us all through it. I don’t know what we would have done without you.”
Thankfully, Sarah was one of our success stories and we were able to support her and her children until she felt able to continue without us. The truth is suicide is completely preventable, yet often the issues surrounding it are still seen as somewhat of a taboo with people unwilling to disclose their mental health problems for fear of being stigmatised.
So what do we at FSW do to help? We place no limit on how long a family can receive our support – we help them for as long as they want and need us. Through a combination of home visits, one-to-one meetings and group sessions where appropriate, we help families access the practical and emotional support they need. Often this will involve signposting them to specialist mental health support, and being with them as they take their first steps on the road to recovery. Our long-term approach makes a real difference – last year 60% of the parents we supported reported a positive increase in their mental health.
As one of the only services that does not provide time-limited support, our work is greatly in demand and in 2018 we were able to put four new family support practitioners into Sussex, completing the first stage of our 5-year vision. We welcomed Becky to Crawley; Kelly to East Grinstead; Stacey to Coldean, and Phillipa to Lewes, Newhaven and Seaford and now have 11 practitioners active throughout Sussex.
It can be the smallest things that make a huge difference to someone’s mental health – a trip out for a family that gives them the chance to experience a new activity ; the opportunity for a child to have a one-one play session and open up to somebody outside the family about their worries. Our holistic work with families is so important and only possible thanks to the generous donations of our supporters – just £12 will pay for a one-to-one play session, and £40 gives a whole family a day out. If you would like to learn more about our impact, you can find out more here, or if you would like to donate directly, you can click here.
Let’s use this World Mental Health Day to support those in our local communities who need us the most – take the opportunity to show you care.