Call to end mental health stigma in South Tyneside
Latest statistics from Public Health England reveal in the past three years 40 people in South Tyneside died by suicide - of those 30 were men.
With Christmas only weeks away and the stresses and pressures surrounding this time of year, charity Mind say this could be the time when people need to take a step back and think about themselves.
It is also a time when friends and family need to reach out to those who may be finding the festive season difficult and to give the gift of listening.
The figures come as Tyneside and Northumberland Mind – which covers South Tyneside – reveals that calls for advice and support from the charity has risen with 250 people a week using its services.
Stuart Dexter of Tyneside and Northumberland Mind said: “We’ve seen a huge increase in people approaching us for help with their mental health problem at a time when austerity measures are putting more and more strain on services.
“Some of this increase may be down to a reduction in the stigma associated with mental health problems and greater awareness, meaning that people are more willing to ask for help rather than suffer alone but undoubtedly part of this increase is due to the stresses and strains of modern life.
“The cost of living is rising, job security is a problem and welfare reform has put huge pressures on some of the most vulnerable people in society. Christmas can be a particularly difficult time, particularly for people coping with other issues.”
He added: “There is help out there. Charities such as Mind are there to help and we would always recommend anyone who is concerned about their own or someone else’s mental health to speak to someone, whether that be Mind, their GP or another professional.”
Today, The Gazette is calling on people to reach out to others and to let those that are struggling know that there can be light at the end of the tunnel.
The charity is also keen to stamp out the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health to encourage more people to seek support and to help people not to be scared to broach the subject with friends that they fear may be having suicidal thoughts.
Mr Dexter added: “Mental health problems are incredibly common and nothing to be ashamed of. One in four of us will experience a mental health problem at any time and the first step to dealing with these problems is to speak to someone. We work with hundreds of people each year who overcome their challenges in life and go on to live a full and fulfilling life despite their problem.”
Information from Mind reveals loneliness can increase stress levels and can contribute to mental health problems with over half of people who have experienced depression or anxiety isolating themselves from family and friends.
It is thought stigma and discrimination leads to some people not seeking help with nine out of 10 people reporting their mental health problem has a negative impact on their lives. The result is people withdraw and isolate themselves, meaning that it is likely that they will engage with mainstream services or talk to professionals.”
People across South Tyneside are now being urged to get behind the campaign, talk to their friends and reach out to those who may be struggling, not just at Christmas but all year round. Mr Dexter added: “We can do so much more working together, little deeds can be big things to those in need.”