Inspired by World Suicide Prevention Day on the 10th September, I painstakingly ran these two routes; one higgledy piggledy, to demonstrate how mental illness can make our thoughts a total and utter muddle and hard to make sense of ("What were you doing?!" remarked a kindly friend on Strava), and the second as a little gleam of hope, that somehow, with time and support we might be able to help tidy up those thoughts a bit and hand them back to you.
Sadly lockdown has seen a surge in the horrible reality of mental health struggles as people grapple with the loneliness imposed on them during shielding, the gaping void when community activities shut down, and the loss of face to face contact with counsellors, psychotherapists and other support groups. And we know that here at OSMP our patients are missing the ability to pop in and chat to our awesome Reception Staff, and to come for regular check-ups. BUT (and this is a big fur-lined cruise-liner sized BUT) please know that WE ARE STILL SEEING PATIENTS WHERE MEDICALLY NECESSARY. First we phone back everyone who asks for an appointment to check if there’s a way we can help them without having to increase the risk of virus transmission by seeing them face to face, and this is often achievable on the phone, via video consultation, or by sending in a photo.
You know, one of the lovely advantages of video consultation or chatting to someone through a glass window (making things as confidential as we can!), is that we can see each other’s faces. Yesterday I had the joy of being able to chat freely to my lovely trainee Dr Jill Burns (take a bow, Jill), whilst doing our weekly tutorial over video link, and neither of us needed to mask-up. It's poignant that some of my colleagues have never seen Jill’s smiling face because she started with us during the pandemic. Sad right? But, if we think creatively, like Zoom chats, or physically-distanced walking meetings, there are often ways to get back that personal aspect.
We know that our patients with anxiety and depression are particularly in need of this personal support. I’m constantly in awe of anyone struggling, who yet somehow finds motivation to ring up and put up with my tardy call-back, poor wi-fi signal, and other IT issues (I’m going to blame COVID for all of the above, thanks). Luckily we’ve had fantastic input from our social prescriber Heidi Moon, who joined the OSMP team just before lockdown. She has kindly provided me with the following useful links:
Time to Change is a growing movement of people (Champions) changing how we all think and act about mental health in homes, health services, and our workplaces. As Champions we share our lived experience of mental health problems in a variety of ways to help to end mental health stigma and discrimination. Sharing personal stories of lived experience has been shown to be an effective way to change attitudes towards mental health. Anyone can find out more and become involved by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by looking at www.time-to-change.org.uk
Menfulness is an inclusive social community for York Men to socialise, exercise, talk and let off steam. Check out #DontManUp, and this amazing poem youtu.be/5E_AQkbg5NE. Here are links to their meet ups: http://meetu.ps/c/4qNLF/Lr7mq/d
York Samaritans - call 116 123 free from any phone. www.samaritans.org/branches/york
Papyrus prevention of young suicide - 0800 068 4141 http://www.papyrus.org.uk/
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis please contact your local Crisis Team on 0800 0516 171. They are available 24/7
Keep smiling and supporting each other, and please give us a ring at OSMP if you need support.