I am going to swim the English Channel between 20-28 August 2019. I realise this is no easy feet. I shall be swimming for a charity called 'Rethink mental illness'. I believe they are a more than worthwhile cause as they help so many people improve their lives and mental health. 16 million people at any time in the UK are experiencing a mental health related issue and more poignantly, one in four adults will experience a mental health related illness at some point in their lives.
I have not been diagnosed with a mental health issue personally. However, mental health is something I take very seriously and many people I know including family members have suffered from mental health issues such as Schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and drug addictions. Sadly, I lost my brother John due to mental illness three years ago. This is something, that I believe I did not deal well with and largely just tried to ignore. It certainly isn't something that I talk about often, if at all, with people close to me. However, I also believe support, encouragement and talking about such issues, will largely remove the stigma attached to these issues. It may not diminish the occurrence of mental health issues in the population, but it will perhaps decrease their severity and how uncomfortable sufferers feel.
This is not an issue exclusively for adults but shockingly also affects young people severely. In fact, suicide is the biggest killer of young people in the UK. In 2015, 1,660 people under 35 years of age took their own lives. On average, people with severe mental health issues die between 10-20 years earlier than the general population, which means it has a greater effect on longevity than smoking. This has been linked to poor physical and nutritional health.
Perhaps the real problem lies in people feeling alienated and isolated, or not able to talk about these problems. 56% of young people said they think people with mental health issues their age will be treated differently and 55% said they would lose their friends. Furthermore, 51% believe anyone their age diagnosed, would be embarrassed. The rate of suicide is higher in men which is interesting because studies show that women are actually over two times more likely to admit or talk about their mental health.
Now strikingly, despite 1 in 4 people being affected at some stage, only 6% of UK health research budget is spent on mental health research. This is 22 times less than on cancer and 18 times less than on dementia and works out at just £8.00 per person suffering from mental health issues.
So do not feel you have to, but if you have the time and can spare some change, please donate to this fantastic charity, striving to make a difference to peoples' lives nationwide.
Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving - they'll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they'll send your money directly to the charity. So it's the most efficient way to donate - saving time and cutting costs for the charity.