Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Mental Health Awareness Week.

So, it's mental health awareness week this week. To be perfectly honest, I don't know an overly large amount about mental health. I only really know what I learnt from A-level Psychology and my own experiences of depression, anxiety and eating disorders in myself and those I've known over the past years. Despite my own struggles I wouldnt like to claim to understand it, or to say that I understand fully what it means to be mentally ill. 

But what I do know, is that being mentally ill is a real illness, it may not be visible, but that doesnt mean it isnt painful, it doesnt mean you wont struggle with particular things, and it doesnt mean you can just make yourself well because 'its all in your head'. I know that God understands the ins and outs of every mental health problem. That he is capable of bringing freedom and healing to people who are ill just as he is capable with any other illness. I know that Jesus knows how depression felt. He said himself in Matthew 26:36-39 (below) that his soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death (I may be wrong but I wwould say that pretty acuratley represents depression, or at least a form of it!)

"36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

And Jesus fell on his face, before his heavenly father and asked for freedom (From the death he was about to face on the cross, but I think also from the deep anguish and despair going on in his soul). But he also had the respect of God to know that God's will was what needed to be done, that his dearly loving and caring father knew what was best for his Children. And Jesus trusted his father, that whatever came next was what was right and just. 
I dont know what your experience of mental health is, or what your experience of Jesus is, or of our Father. But I want to encourage you that when you cry out to your Daddy amidst any illness, he hears you and he knows and understands and that he will not leave you. 

So, here are some statistics, I hope they paint a better picture of how common these struggles are, and how real they are.
"1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year.

This is the most commonly quoted statistic, and the one which has the most research evidence to support it. It came initially from a large scale study published first in 1980, then updated again 1992.This figure is further supported by the results of all three Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Surveys.
The breakdown below gives an overview of what treatment those who experience mental health problems are likely to seek and get:
  around 300 people out of 1,000 will experience mental health problems every year in Britain
  230 of these will visit a GP
  102 of these will be diagnosed as having a mental health problem
  24 of these will be referred to a specialist psychiatric service
  6 will become inpatients in psychiatric hospitals.

  Depression with anxiety is experienced by 9.7 per cent of people in England, and depression without anxiety by 2.6 per cent.
  Women have a higher prevalence of mixed anxiety and depressive disorder than men. The ONS figure for women is 11.8 per cent of the population in England and for men 7.6 per cent.
  Overall, depression occurs in 1 in 10 adults or 10 per cent of the population in Britain at any one time, according to the ONS, closely matching figures from other studies.
  Around 1 in 20 people at any one time experience major or ‘clinical’ depression.
Obsessive compulsive disorder
  Around 1.3 per cent of the population of England have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) at any one time according to the NHS Information Centre.
  Other studies suggest that up to 3 per cent of the population will experience OCD at some time in their life.
  Several studies suggest a lifetime prevalence of 2 to 3 per cent.     However, NICE suggests that these figures are too high and that some studies may have over-diagnosed people participating in the studies.
  Studies are divided over whether this is more common for women: one survey gives a female to male ratio of 15:11[xiii], whereas other studies have suggested no clear gender difference in diagnostic rates for OCD.
Eating disorders
  The incidence of anorexia nervosa is around 19 per 100,000 of the population per year for women and 2 per 100,000 per year for men, according to NICE.
  The prevalence for bulimia nervosa is between 0.5 and 1.0 per cent for young women, suggests NICE.
  Around 90 per cent of those diagnosed with bulimia are thought to be girls, according to NICE.
  Beating Eating Disorder (beat) suggests that the prevalence rates for anorexia might be around 1 –2 per cent. For bulimia they suggest a prevalence rate of 1-3 per cent.
  As many cases of eating disorder are unreported or undiagnosed, the actual figures are likely to be much higher. beat suggests that as many as 1.5 million people in the UK might be experiencing some form of eating disorder.
Postnatal depression
  The most common form of postnatal disturbance is the ‘baby blues’ which is said to be experienced by at least half of all mothers in the western world.
  However, different studies suggest different figures for the number of women affected by ‘baby blues’, and estimates vary between 15 and 85 per cent.
  Baby blues usually lasts for a few hours or a few days. The condition is so common that it is considered as normal.
  Some women have a much more severe change in mood after the birth of their child and may be assessed as experiencing postnatal depression (PND). A number of studies indicate that 10-15 per cent of new mothers will experience PND.
  Puerperal psychosis is a severe and relatively rare form of postnatal depression affecting between 0.1 and 0.2 per cent of all new mothers.[xx]
  Around 2.6 per cent of adults in England experience phobias.[xxi]
  One study, it is shown that women are twice as likely as men to experience phobias.
  Other studies show widely differing rates: one author quotes two community surveys - one in Canada, giving a prevalence rate of 7.7 per cent; and another very large US survey, giving a rate of 13.3 per cent.
Personality disorders
  In Britain the prevalence of personality disorder ranges from 2 per cent to 13 per cent according to different studies.
  The concept of a personality disorder is controversial and use of this diagnosis is often questioned. Some diagnoses are applied more commonly to men (such as dissocial personality disorder), while others are applied more commonly to women (such as borderline personality disorder).
  ONS reports that the prevalence rate for personality disorder in the UK is around 5.4 per cent for men and 3.4 for women.
Bipolar disorder (Manic Depression)
  Most studies give a lifetime prevalence of 1 per cent for bipolar disorder and equal prevalence rates for men and women.
  However, hospital admission rates are much higher owing to the recurrent nature of the illness.
  It is estimated that 20 per cent of people who have a first episode of manic depression do not get another.
  Most studies show a lifetime prevalence for schizophrenia of just under 1 per cent.
  ONS suggests a per year prevalence rate of around 5 per 1000 of the population (0.5 per cent).
  It is estimated that the prevalence at any one time is about 2 per 1000 (0.2 per cent).
  While prevalence rates are the same for men and women, age and gender together is an important factor: one study shows incidence for men aged 15-24 is twice that for women, whereas for those between 24-35, it is higher among women. This reflects a common late onset of the illness for women.
  One estimate suggests that around 37-40 per cent of people diagnosed with psychosis will fit the diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia."

For more information go to for general mental health, or for eating disorders.

Be aware, be prayerful for those struggling.
If your struggling, remember you aren't alone, no matter how alone you feel.

Thursday, 9 May 2013


So, I don't really know where your at, or what your fighting with and wrestling with, but im fairly sure there will be something. 
If I'm honest, I'm pretty tired of fighting today, and I'm feeling pretty weak and tired. Ok, tired isnt the word, I'm completely shattered, and not seeing anything I'm fighting for becoming a reality and becoming worth the level of effort I'm putting in! Anyway, that all sounds very negative, I know, but bear with...(couldn't resist a little miranda in there, sorry!). So, I was feeling rubbish, and decided to try and put paper to pen and write a poem, and halfway through the poem it occured to me that now that I'd accepted how weak I was, it meant I had the oppertunity to see how strong God is (Yes, I know some of you have been trying to show me for a while, but its clicked a little now). So here is a poem I wrote, its called Fight, and I hope somehow it helps with your fight.

Its never ending,
The fight inside,
A constant battle,
My will agaisnt mine.

I try and fight,
Push you further back,
But the results dont show,
And fight then I lack.

You whisper and twist,
All different words in my brain,
I thought I was winning,
But I've lost this again.

I thought I'd let go,
But that was just one hand,
And I was decieved,
You re-took your stand.

I try and try,
And I lose and lose,
I've lost more of myself,
And my hope has left too.

I want control,
But I want freedom too,
I want my life back,
And I don't want you.

I don't want you twisting,
Distorting my mind,
I want the truth,
To have power inside.

I want to stand,
To walk away,
My face turned to God,
In his hands I'll stay.

So goodbye, forever,
The battle is won,
I will take small steps,
Because of God's Son.

With each little step,
A brighter light shines,
Pace by pace,
I'll leave you behind.

One day I will be completely free,
Because my saviour died for me,
Until that day I will keep stepping into light,
Strengthened by God for each bit of the fight.

So that is my poem, and that is my prayer. I want those things, and today its hard to see them, but I want to.