Walk In My Shoes http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie Take a small step and make a huge difference. Wed, 15 Nov 2017 12:03:59 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.3 http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/cropped-Walk-in-my-shoes-St-patricks-mhs-icon-32x32.png Walk In My Shoes http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie 32 32 The Runway of Life – Tips for well-being http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie/runway-life-tips-well/ Fri, 10 Nov 2017 16:03:31 +0000 http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie/?p=8332 It may sound like an exaggeration, but from my own experience I can say that most ex-service users can have a very good quality of life. I have learnt from my many stays in St. Patrick’s, that there is life after hospitalisation, and that hope abounds for virtually every service user with a few genuine […]

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It may sound like an exaggeration, but from my own experience I can say that most ex-service users can have a very good quality of life. I have learnt from my many stays in St. Patrick’s, that there is life after hospitalisation, and that hope abounds for virtually every service user with a few genuine ‘tips’ on how to taxi down the runway of life and keep smiling. I have been a patient in St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services for protracted periods myself. The good news is that I have been out of hospital for 13 years, and have found happiness in the community, where I have a high standard of living.
I wanted to share with you some of the things I use to keep myself well and hope that they may be of some use or benefit if you are struggling with your mental health.

Self-affirmation.

Self-affirmation is key to sustained progress. At the end of each day, mentally look back over your day, and congratulate yourself. Every little/big thing you have achieved you tell yourself ‘well done!’ Very soon, your self-esteem will improve. So keep endorsing yourself in this way, and feel your confidence soar!

Apologise.

Most of us have hurt family or friends when we have been unwell. This damages relationships. It makes sense to mend broken relationships by admitting we were wrong. Start again with family and friends.

Build a social network.

This is absolutely essential. Being part of a social group encourages ex-patients (that is, service users) to abide by the social norms that society places on all adults. It teaches us important lessons about our role in the community: from paying our own way, to being on time, to keeping to your word. It also gives us vital opportunities to LISTEN to other people’s views, and, to some degree, their ‘problems’. Service users have learnt a lot and can help others immeasurably. This in turn further improves your self-esteem.

Find a Cultural Activity.

Google or enquire about FREE activities in your area. If you are fortunate enough to live in or close to Dublin, the possibilities are endless. Most people can find an educational or cultural activity to suit their pocket and time. The big ‘plus’ is that lots of other people are like you, and want to get involved with a group, to also meet other people and enjoy their free time.

Most of our art galleries, exhibitions, libraries, parks and sports are free to use, and offer a world of fascinating and relaxing events all year round. Apart from learning a great deal about our history and culture, they are very interesting and provide a connection between people who want to make friends. I have seen this happen again and again. One thing leads to another, and a walking group, for example, can end up becoming a ‘tourist’ group on a separate day during the week. If you are NOT working, it’s possible to have a very good social life, on very little money. A visit to the National Art Gallery, or the Hugh Lane Gallery, (both are free in), can be followed by a cup of coffee with the group. So these types of excursions give you ‘a lot of bang for your buck’. The friendships made along the way, make the initial effort worthwhile.

It’s worth a trip into the tourist office, or to the www.OPW.ie site, to avail of the wonderful attractions in our cities and towns. We went to free concerts, talks, city tours, poetry readings, lectures, historical buildings, castles and heritage centres. We loved it! We still have lots of other places to visit, and lots of conversations to have! – If you feel it is too much of an effort and that you don’t know anyone to socialise with, just go to one place, and start there. Ask existing friends to go to an event with you. Lots of other people are in the same position as yourself, so generally people at cultural events also hope to meet other friendly people. Another benefit from these activities is that you have definite places to go every week, and another reason, therefore, to get up reasonably early, as you have a commitment on time. Afterwards, you’ll be delighted that you made the effort, and will look forward to the next ‘cultural’ or ‘social’ event on your calendar. And of course, you can affirm yourself, at the end of the day: ‘Well done!’

And that’s the most important aspect of your life at present: ‘Well done!’, if you are out of hospital, for that is a very significant step in your life, and believe it, you CAN have a quality of life, no matter what age you are.

DO THE THINGS THAT HELP YOU STAY WELL!

And – yes – socialising is one of them! In your activities, you will meet some very interesting people, who are happy to meet you. Take the first step, for it gets easier after that.

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Talking to Children about Suicide http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie/talking-children-suicide/ Wed, 01 Nov 2017 10:50:46 +0000 http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie/?p=8313 The post Talking to Children about Suicide appeared first on Walk In My Shoes.

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How To Talk To Children About Suicide

by Prof. Jim Lucey | Today with Sean O'Rourke - Wednesday 1st November

Why “silence and secrecy” only increase the pain of bereavement by suicide.

Childhood is meant to be a happy time, a protected time, but for some children (especially those prematurely exposed to death as a result of a suicide in their family or community) childhood can become a particularly challenging time.

When there is a death by suicide we need to be able to talk to each other and to our children. Sometimes when adults are in pain and cannot find the right language we communicate with our presence, by our gestures and by our willingness to listen and to reassure to each other. Yet how should we speak to our children at these times?

There are no easy answers to the questions posed by our children at a time of death. Death by suicide occurs twice per day in Ireland with each day adding new dimensions to this essential painful conversation with our children.

Thankfully there is helpful guidance available and it comes from a variety of responsible sources. It is based upon a combination of experience, science and common sense and so this too needs to be shared. While no one should be considered ‘the expert’ in this field, professional help is available and seeking that help is worthwhile and for some essential.

That is why, in this piece, I will try to summarise some key points. I will finish with a list of useful resources. All these references are available through www.stpatricks.ie The intention is to be helpful and to be kind, by enabling each other to communicate at a time of extreme tragedy. Just as there is no right way to grieve, there is no right way to communicate that grief to each other or to our children. We can only do our best in these extremely difficult times. One thing is both certain and reassuring: talking about a death by suicide does not cause a death by suicide. In fact, such a conversation may prevent it.

So how should we have this conversation with our children?

There are some first principles. Firstly, children have a right to know about death. They have a right to ask questions and they have a right to a hearing. Secondly we adults have a duty to be as honest as possible and always to be appropriate whenever we talk to our children about suicide.

Remember that children at differing stages of development have different levels of comprehension depending upon their maturity. For example, pre-teens and teenagers are likely to have very different abilities to express or comprehend their loss. We need to take this individual variation into account when preparing what we are going to say. It is always better to prepare. After every death a conversation such as this may happen at any time. It is best to give this particular conversation some thought and some preparation. There is no harm in rehearsing what you are going to say whenever you have to talk about a suicide with your child.

So what are the first steps?

The first thing is to look after yourself and your own feelings. The shock and suddenness of loss through suicide is stunning. It’s best to remember that the causes of suicide are never straightforward. No one has all the answers. In your grief and confusion try to avoid gossip or speculation from others about the death. There is great value in a period of deep quiet before this conversation begins. Take your time. Give yourself space to cope emotionally. Whether the deceased is an adult or a child the mix of emotions is powerful. Give yourself latitude to cope with your own mixed feelings before you approach your child.

Next step is to care for your child-but how?

Remember your adult grief does not exist in a vacuum. Your concern for yourself will likely be quickly followed by intense concerns for your child. Your awareness of his or her grief is a good thing. As your child’s welfare becomes a priority be prepared for their different ways of handling their grief. Their sadness may be expressed in intense short bursts. Between these times nothing may be said by them. Be prepared to catch the moments when a conversation is possible and respond at that time.

Do your best to speak in a simple way. Avoid euphemisms. Use language that is easy to understand. Be as honest as you can be. This includes sharing your shock and bewilderment, your anger and your sadness.

Try also to acknowledge the validity of your child’s feelings. Be ready to hear about their sadness, confusion, anger and lack of understanding. Listen to them. Sometimes a child will simply say ‘I don’t know what to think or say’. Acknowledge that too. Sometimes it’s hard for any of us to know what we feel or what we should feel. Remember it is OK to be distressed. Do not reproach yourself or your child for the way that you feel.

Next, it is best to acknowledge that rumours and questions abound about the suicide. Try to put these into context. Be particularly careful with social media in this regard. Inevitably the full facts will come out and in time the manner of death by suicide, its precipitants and its specific circumstances will be made clear. Soon these ‘facts’ will diminish in importance and be replaced with a deeper truth: the realisation of the finality of the loss. There will be need for much more communication along the way.

It is best to recognise the dangerous and often unintended consequences of self-harm behaviours. It’s important to remain non-judgemental, never to preach or lecture, but it is equally important to emphasise the dangerousness of risk-taking, especially around drugs or alcohol or firearms.

Suicidal behaviour is a learned behaviour. Obviously, it is not a model to be followed. Worryingly, at times, some children feel inclined to copy the behaviour of the deceased. This risk has been seen throughout history amongst siblings or cousins or school friends, leading rarely to groups of deaths known as ‘cluster suicides’. It is important for adults to avoid alarm about ‘clustering’ while remaining vigilant at the same time. Once again better communication is our best safe guard.

Children (like adults) will struggle to understand the reasons for suicide. Sadly, in the absence of any other explanations young people are more likely to blame themselves for the catastrophe. Some children even feel that a parent who died by suicide must not have loved them enough. In both situations it’s important to hear this distress and then to try to reassure the child. As far as possible nothing about the manner of a death should take away from the good of a life lived or diminish the love that was in that life for those who shared it.

Sometimes after a suicide the deceased can become ‘unspoken’ persons. As a result of this silence, those left behind, particularly the children, find themselves simultaneously bereaved of their loved one and prevented from grieving for them, without permission to give voice to their cherished memory. In time, talking with each other may make it possible to offer an alternative explanation, at first tentatively, ‘that the deceased must have felt so confused or so terrible that they came to a dreadful conclusion- that no other solution existed except their own death’. An opportunity to talk with a trusted adult on these lines can make all the difference.

Actually this ‘analysis’ is likely to be true. Suicide is most commonly associated with poor mental health through depression and substance misuse. It is not necessarily a mental health issue but in the vast number of instances mental health difficulty is the basis for suicide. It’s important for adults to affirm that nothing in life should ever be so terrible or so devastating that suicide becomes the best option. With the appropriate help a better option can become reality.

Ultimately we want to ensure that all our children have the confidence and freedom to reach out when they are hopeless, so that they seek more help when they feel depressed or despairing or in a crisis. Earlier intervention and more effective mental healthcare will only be accessed if we hear each other’s needs and respond with effective support.

For further information or support you can call The Information and Support Line at (01) 2493333 or on line at www.stpatricks.ie or check the references below.

Useful References:

Parenting Positively: Helping teenagers to cope with death. Barnardos and The Family Support Agency (2009)

The Irish Childhood Bereavement Network. The Care Pyramid: a guide to support for bereaved children and young people (2014). http://www.childhoodbereavement.ie/

When a child’s friend dies by suicide. Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide http://www.sptsusa.org/

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Moving On Up http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie/moving-on-up-2/ Thu, 26 Oct 2017 16:02:19 +0000 http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie/?p=8307 The post Moving On Up appeared first on Walk In My Shoes.

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I may have been born in November but it seems October has quickly become one of my favourite months of the year as the annual pop-up radio station Walk in My Shoes Radio returned for its fifth time.

Walk in My Shoes Radio broadcasted live from St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services on James Street in Dublin during Mental Health Awareness Week, the 9th-13th October 2017. WIMS FM is Ireland’s first all-digital pop-up radio station dedicated solely to the promotion of positive mental health

This year saw me in a different role than what I am used to as I tried my hand at being an assistant producer. I worked on the 5-7pm and 7-9pm time slots. The 5-7pm slots I worked on were presented by Stephen Byrne from Weekenders on 2FM, Blathnaid Treacy from Two Tube, Jenny Greene from 2FM and her partner Kelly Keogh. The 7-9pm slots were presented by Pat O’Mahony of ‘Head 2 Toe’ fame and Pamela Flood from ‘Off the Rails”. Two hours is not enough for me when working with all these lovely people!

I had the privilege of being an assistant producer to two ladies who are also RTÉ Continuity Announcers by the names Gemma Craddock and Jan Ní Fhlanagáin. Their roles are really intense as they have to be on high alert all the time with the timing of interviews, presenter talking pieces and songs. They have to let the presenter know how long they have before the next break and song. There is a lot of concentration involved. My role this year was pretty quiet in comparison which gives me a bit of an urge to try out theirs next year. I will stick with it for a while though to see what else I can add to it next time.

One of the biggest highlights of my volunteering this year was having my own song played on the station. Pat O’Mahony interviewed me about my own background in media and music, what my song “Branches” is about, what inspired me to write it and what the inspiration for the music video was. This was a great opportunity to promote a song I am very proud of writing. Especially on a radio station which is aimed at promoting positive mental health.

As with every year I tend to bump into some of the great faces and voices of Irish media and music. This year’s list included Celia Murphy who plays Niamh on Fair City, Aoibheann McCaul who plays Caoimhe on Fair City, singer Mary Coughlan and Sinead Kane who is the first blind person to complete 7 Marathons on 7 Continents in 7 Days but as she stated more precisely, she ran it in 6 days and 9 hours.

Due to other commitments outside of WIMS FM that week, I was only in the station for three days as opposed to my usual five days. It went by way too quickly.

I am all pumped up and ready for WIMS FM 2018…. BRING IT ON!

Gina Lu

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Adolescents and the importance of friendships in the school setting http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie/adolescents-importance-friendships-school-setting/ Fri, 29 Sep 2017 12:14:55 +0000 http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie/?p=7939 For most of us, we spend a large proportion of our time in the school setting, from as young as about 3 years of age to 18 years or thereabouts. Nowadays, from a very young age, many children enter into a very different environment to what they are used to in the home setting. This […]

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For most of us, we spend a large proportion of our time in the school setting, from as young as about 3 years of age to 18 years or thereabouts. Nowadays, from a very young age, many children enter into a very different environment to what they are used to in the home setting. This may be Playschool, Montessori or Primary School. When this time comes for a child, they enter into a particular group with other young children just like them and spend a large proportion of their day learning to read and write and of course, form friendships, learn to get along with others and continue to build the blocks of their social skills. These blocks are continuously being built, right through Primary School, into the adolescent years and indeed throughout adult life. You’re never too old to learn! What is being learned along the way, paves the way for the future.

I’d like to talk about friendships in the adolescent years (13 to 18) and how important this is in the school setting. Adolescence is one of the most rapid stages of brain development throughout life. This, coupled with the onset of the physical and hormonal changes of puberty is undoubtedly a lot of change for any young person to go through. Yet we all have to go through it! During this stage of development, young people can often find themselves wanting to spend more time with their peers than their parents or siblings. Therefore friendships can be a very influential part of any young person’s life. For adolescents, more time is spent in the school setting compared with childhood. Transition from Primary School to Secondary School can also be challenging for some young people. Some may enter larger classes, some may know none or only a few people from their Primary School, who are also transitioning to Secondary School. Not to mention the increased workload.

So with all this in tow, some people may have different groups of friends including best friends, casual friends and close friends. However there are some young people for whatever reason, do not feel happy or comfortable with friendships in school or they may feel that they have few or no friends. This is an added burden to those who feel like this.

Given that the school setting is a rather intense one with regular face to face contact and interaction with others, it’s important that young people feel comfortable for the most part. Difficulties with friendships in school can have a knock – on effect on other aspects of a young person’s life. Positive experiences with interaction and friendships with others can likewise have positive effects on aspects of a young person’s life. The negative aspects young people experience around friendships are undoubtedly very difficult and these young people need to be fully supported through difficult times. Examples include difficult dynamics within groups of friends, changes to groups of friends, being bullied, excluded from things, the challenges that social media can bring. Does the perfect friendship exist? If we all had perfect friendships, I fear we would not have to face these challenges and hence not have the opportunity to become stronger and wiser as a result of coming through difficult times.

However to do this alone is extremely difficult. Therefore having people around to support young people, to listen to them, to encourage them to communicate how they feel is so very important. We are all too familiar with stories we have read or heard about young people going to such lengths as to take their own lives. Sometimes with these unfortunate stories we hear, the young person may have been bullied. Bullying shouldn’t happen in our society but it does. We should be pulling together to help who we can and teach our children to do the same thing. Teach this at school and at home, the 2 places that young people are practically guaranteed to be most of the time.

When I think of school, I think about both the academic and social aspects of school. It’s important to remember the 2 are separate but also interlinked. I still remember in particular 1 or 2 teachers I had in Secondary School, who I looked up to and who I must say probably “made a difference”. A good teacher can somehow be the glue that can hold a class together and bring out the positives and strengths in some or most of the young people they teach. This of course can enhance a respect for a teacher and fellow pupils. All people learn from good example and what better way to show it than a in the classroom setting led by a good teacher. A good teacher I believe teaches more than the curriculum subject.

For a young person, attending a school with a good ethos around friendship, I believe is key to that young person continuing on their journey to enhancing positive friendships. Most schools nowadays focus on friendship by having various aspects of this on the curriculum such as Friendship Week, Anti- Bullying policies, various aspects around friendship in their SPHE Programmes.
Also partaking in group activities in the school setting. However I believe one of the most important things in school is having access to good staff and teachers who are “clued in and have their ear to the ground” for a better word. I mean those who are tuned in to what is going on in the school and can identify if someone is having difficulties with a friend/ peer group. It is essential that if someone, be it a young person, peer or parent brings a difficulty to the attention of a teacher or principal, that this is explored and managed accordingly. Again, this can include incidents of bullying or other difficulties.

Adolescents and the importance of friendships in the school setting

Adolescents and the importance of friendships in the school setting

Enhancing good communication is key to young people opening up and communicating about any problems they may be encountering. This should be in every possible way enhanced by parents and teachers as we know that one of the most important factors to a young person’s mental wellbeing is their ability to communicate their difficulties in some way.

For young people going through adolescence, feeling accepted is so important to them. On our journey through life, we know that we feel accepted by some people but not others. We learn along the way to feel okay about that and if we can foster what we learn about ourselves and other people, we can hopefully become stronger for it. Adolescents are really only starting this journey as they have more choice of who to befriend compared with childhood. Similar interests may pull people together and indeed those with totally opposite interests may also develop good friendships. It’s important that the young person feels the friendship overall is a positive one and it enhances their life, even though there may be the odd falling out or disagreement.

However I must highlight that whatever happens in school around friendships, undoubtedly spills over to other aspects of life. Through social media, we are accessible practically 24/7 to our friends and those that are also not our friends. The school setting allows that face to face contact which nowadays is more important to grasp on to and enhance as so much communication outside of school is through the virtual world of social media. Indeed some young people find avenues for friendships trough social media which otherwise they may not have. That of course is positive but I think we must harvest our innate gift of face to face communication and nurture it. What better place to do this than in the school setting.

The school environment is an important place to help nurture friendships. It is a meeting place that is readily available for young people to socialise. It’s important that young people have adults in their lives to look out for them and talk to them. Parents need to be tuned into what’s going on in their children’s lives, especially in relation to their child’s friendships. Good communication between parents and school is important. As we well know the school environment can be experienced as a very unpleasant place for some and again, having support from adults to explore and work through these difficulties with young people and their parents is essential.

Therefore fostering communication between friends, teachers, parents and whoever else is important in a young person’s life is important. This article focused on the importance of friendships in the school setting, however we all know this is so important but what we can do to foster this also goes way beyond the school setting into all aspects of a young person’s life.

Dr. Susan Healy, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services, Dublin

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Pop-up radio station Walk in My Shoes Radio announced for Mental Health Awareness Week http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie/pop-radio-station-walk-shoes-radio-announced-mental-health-awareness-week/ Wed, 20 Sep 2017 11:51:50 +0000 http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie/?p=7700 The post Pop-up radio station Walk in My Shoes Radio announced for Mental Health Awareness Week appeared first on Walk In My Shoes.

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Walk in My Shoes Radio returns to broadcast live from St Patrick’s Mental Health Services from Monday 9th October until Friday 13th October

St Patrick’s Mental Health Services today announced that its Walk in My Shoes Radio (WIMS Radio), Ireland’s only pop-up radio station dedicated to the promotion of positive mental health, will return to broadcast live from St Patrick’s University Hospital from Monday 9th October until Friday 13th October to mark World Mental Health Awareness Week.

The station was launched today by a number of WIMS Radio hosts including mental health advocates, celebrity ambassadors and well-known presenters.

Walk in My Shoes Radio was established to promote positive mental health and most importantly, encourage people to seek support and professional advice when experiencing mental health issues.

The overall aim of Walk in My Shoes Radio is to encourage listeners to become involved in the conversation around mental health. Positive mental health and wellbeing should be a priority in all of our lives. Walk in My Shoes Radio has an important message: taking action early by seeking support and professional advice to deal with mental health issues is vital.

This year’s Walk in My Shoes Radio Line-up includes:

  • Shay Byrne
  • Stephen Byrne
  • Diana Bunici
  • Alison Canavan
  • Laura Canavan
  • Nuala Carey
  • Dr Malie Coyne
  • Alison Curtis
  • Anna Daly
  • Simon Delaney
  • Dustin The Turkey
  • Pamela Flood
  • Steve Garrigan
  • Corina Grant
  • Jenny Greene
  • Rebecca Horan
  • Trevor Keegan
  • Dr Ciara Kelly
  • Kelly Keogh
  • Eric Lawlor
  • Dr Sinéad Lynch
  • Tommy Martin
  • Aoibheann McCaul
  • John Moynes
  • Pat O’Mahony
  • Dave O’ Sullivan
  • Brent Pope
  • Jon Slattery
  • Alison Spittle
  • Blathnaid Treacy
  • Ciara Whelan
  • Laura Woods
  • In addition to the above line up there will be guest presenters and appearances throughout the week.
       
    Speaking at the launch event, Paul Gilligan, CEO of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, said;

    “We started broadcasting Walk in My Shoes Radio in 2014 to mark World Mental Health Awareness Week and it has truly gone from strength to strength each year. Time and again we have attracted well known mental health advocates and celebrity ambassadors to take part in what we all think is an important and unique platform from which we can directly connect with people and talk to them about the importance of positive mental health. This is our ongoing attempt to keep the conversation on mental health positive and to reduce stigma. I’m really excited about this year’s line-up and wish them all well.”

    Speaking about the launch, Tamara Nolan, Communications Manager with St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services said;

    “The line-up this year is fantastic and with the help of all of these wonderful people, who are volunteering their time, we hope to bring about real change. If this station can help to inform people about positive mental health, or prompt them into taking positive action in relation to their own mental health then it’s worthwhile, and I have no doubt that it will. Together we can keep the conversation going, reduce stigma and normalise the proactive management of mental health.”

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    Mental health survey reveals extent and effects of stigma. http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie/mental-health-survey-reveals-extent-effects-stigma/ Thu, 07 Sep 2017 11:59:20 +0000 http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie/?p=7654 Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services has revealed that Irish attitudes to mental health difficulties are still fraught with stigma and negativity. St Patrick’s Mental Health Services’ annual attitude survey, which questioned a nationally representative sample of 500 adults, has revealed that many Irish people still struggle to discuss mental […]

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    Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services has revealed that Irish attitudes to mental health difficulties are still fraught with stigma and negativity.

    St Patrick’s Mental Health Services’ annual attitude survey, which questioned a nationally representative sample of 500 adults, has revealed that many Irish people still struggle to discuss mental health difficulties.

    Despite the fact that 28% of respondents had previously been treated for a mental health difficulty themselves and 44% reported having a family member who had been previously treated for mental health difficulties, the survey revealed;

        38% would not tell their partner if they were taking anti-depressants
        36% would not tell their partner if their child was being treated for depression
        25% would tell no one if they were experiencing suicidal thoughts
        25% would tell no one if they had previously been an inpatient for a mental health difficulty and only just over half (55%) would tell a partner
        64% believe that being treated for a mental health difficulty is seen as a sign of personal failure.

    Paul Gilligan, CEO of St Patrick’s, said, “We know that one of the biggest barriers to seeking help for a mental health difficulty is stigma and year on year we are disappointed to find that despite the many public awareness campaigns being run, Irish attitudes to mental health are still fraught with stigma and negativity. Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day this Sunday it is essential that we emphasise the importance of not letting stigma stand in the way of seeking help when in distress. Recovery from mental health difficulties is not just possible but should be expected with the right support and help.”

    Other findings from the survey include;

        44% would not trust someone who experienced post-natal depression to babysit
        23% would not willingly marry someone previously hospitalised with depression
        19% said they would not be entirely comfortable living next door to someone who is bi-polar
        29% do not think someone who experiences panic attacks could be head of a company.
        73% believe society views those who receive in-patient care for mental health difficulties differently
        39% felt the public should be better protected from people with mental health problems
        31% would not feel comfortable explaining to their boss that they need time off due to a mental health difficulty
        60% of people are afraid that they will experience a mental health difficulty in the future
        70% of respondents believe that mental health isn’t talked about enough in the media
    Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services has revealed that Irish attitudes to mental health difficulties are still fraught with stigma and negativity.

    Mental health survey reveals extent and effects of stigma.

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    International Youth Day 2017 http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie/international-youth-day-2017/ Sat, 12 Aug 2017 00:00:56 +0000 http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie/?p=7637 International Youth Day is being held around the world on the 12th August. It is 28 years since it was first set up by the United Nations to celebrate young peoples’ views, initiatives, and efforts in trying to make the world a better place. This year’s theme is “The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and […]

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    International Youth Day is being held around the world on the 12th August.

    It is 28 years since it was first set up by the United Nations to celebrate young peoples’ views, initiatives, and efforts in trying to make the world a better place. This year’s theme is “The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production”.

    We know that many of the causes of poverty also impact severely on young people’s mental health.
    However, if we are going to help young people out of poverty by investment in better education, housing, social policies and mental health services, governments need to ensure that these are implemented in a sustainable way that doesn’t carry its own risks.

    Young people have a very important contribution to make and their views are essential in the design and introduction of new initiatives such as youth mental health services. Such an opportunity is coming up the first time in Dublin on the 24th -26th September, when the International Association for Youth Mental Health is holding its biannual conference.
    This is a chance to see what is happening, meet some of the leaders, and make a contribution to the field of youth mental health.

    If you want more information check out International Association for Youth Mental Health website.

    Dr Paddy Power, Child & Adolescent, Adult Psychiatrist at St Patrick’s Mental Health Services

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    5 tips for parents whose children are set to receive their Leaving Cert results http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie/5-tips-parents-whose-children-set-receive-leaving-cert-results/ Tue, 08 Aug 2017 19:38:26 +0000 http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie/?p=7641 We are only days away from the Leaving Certificate results being released to thousands of students up and down the country. It is a time when it is easy for students to lose track of all perspective and get caught in the hype of the situation. Thus, if you are a parent of a student […]

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    We are only days away from the Leaving Certificate results being released to thousands of students up and down the country.
    It is a time when it is easy for students to lose track of all perspective and get caught in the hype of the situation. Thus, if you are a parent of a student who is receiving their results, it is essential that you act as a steadying anchor during this tumultuous period.
    It is not always easy to know what to do in such scenarios, so we have put together a list of tips for parents whose children are due to receive their results.

    Give perspective

    Most of us can remember when our own results were released and realise that this can be a time of uncertainty, stress and anxiety. It’s easy to think that this is an ‘all or nothing’ scenario and although the Leaving Certificate is important, it is not the only deciding factor in any element of life.
    CEO of St Patrick’s Mental Health Service, Paul Gilligan, emphasised this point when stating: “Your child will be too close to the event to realise this; but the Leaving Certificate isn’t going to determine their whole life’s purpose.
    “It’s essential that you give them the perspective of knowing that if their results don’t go to plan, it doesn’t mean that they can’t achieve their ambition.”

    Discussion is essential

    After the initial feelings of excitement dies down, the student may feel a little underwhelmed and lost on their results day.
    After such a significant moment in time, it can be difficult to readjust to not having a huge weight on their shoulders. It will help if you talk through the results and their feelings, but do it on their terms.
    Some students may find it difficult to move past the emotional strain and stress of this period. If this is the case, then seeking professional help may be the answer, as this intervention will enable students to get past the trauma and anxiety of this difficult time.

    A gentle reminder

    Your son or daughter may be happy with how their results went, but not everyone will be in the same boat as them.
    It is no harm to give them a gentle reminder that not all students will be feeling elated at this time and to be considerate of their peers’ feelings.
    It’s all too easy to get swept up into the moment while forgetting that not everyone’s situation is the same.

    Over analysis is not a good idea

    While it may be necessary to consider getting a re-check, it is generally wise to avoid extensive post-mortems of the past and detailed examinations of the future. Let the student enjoy their post-results party and then the business of ‘what’s next?’ can be discussed.
    If things haven’t gone to plan, obsession over mistakes isn’t going to help anyone and if they have, now isn’t necessarily the time to be making detailed plans.
    Of course, it is important to run through what’s next for your child, but at the same time, now is a time to celebrate.

    Be proud and avoid added pressure

    Your child has completed their secondary school cycle; now is a time to be proud, no matter what their Leaving Cert results were.
    Paul Gilligan added:

    “Many students get caught up with questions, such as ‘what will my parents think?’ and ‘will my parents be upset with my results?’
    “This is an added pressure which doesn’t yield positive results for the student. Your son or daughter has gone through one of lives’ key milestones, so let them know you are proud of them.”

    Walk in My Shoes Helpline for 18-25 year olds The Walk in My Shoes Helpline for 18-25 year olds is a confidential telephone and email service staffed by experienced mental health nurses 9am-5pm Monday to Friday with an answering and call-back facility outside hours. You can contact the Walk in My Shoes Helpline service by calling 01 249 3555, or email help@walkinmyshoes.ie
    Mental Health Support & Information Service The Support & Information Service is a confidential telephone and email service staffed by experienced mental health nurses 9am-5pm Monday to Friday with an answering and call-back facility outside hours. You can contact the Support & Information Service by calling 01 249 3333, or email info@stpatsmail.com

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    A Diagnosis of Schizophrenia but Still Just Me http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie/diagnosis-of-schizophrenia-but-still-just-me/ Fri, 28 Jul 2017 11:13:46 +0000 http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie/?p=7606 Having a psychotic illness has impacted every single part of my life in some way or another. Although more children are now being diagnosed with and treated for Schizophrenia, it is considered to be rare in childhood. When I was a child, it was pretty much unheard of. Explaining that I hear voices in my […]

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    Having a psychotic illness has impacted every single part of my life in some way or another.

    Although more children are now being diagnosed with and treated for Schizophrenia, it is considered to be rare in childhood. When I was a child, it was pretty much unheard of. Explaining that I hear voices in my head and live in a state of constant paranoia is hard enough as an adult, but as a child it was too much for me to even understand myself. So, I lived through a very dark and disturbing time alone. I have struggled with my mental health for as long as I can remember, everything from hallucinations, delusions, manic episodes, to anxiety, self-harm and obsessive-compulsive thoughts.

    I was finally treated for psychosis in my early twenties and was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. I remember asking a doctor if she could make me “normal” like all the other girls my age. I thought my life was over. I would never have the future I had imagined. There was not some magic wand that could “fix” everything, and the prospect of having a long-term, incurable illness felt like a punishment. I had already lived nearly my entire life with psychosis thinking there would be an end to it. Finding out that this was a permanent, irreversible thing is what got to me the most.

    It’s easy to get caught up with the stigma that surrounds Schizophrenia. The word psychotic is constantly misused in every day conversation, people use it to describe a person’s behaviour that they don’t approve of. Experiencing hallucinations, delusions or disorganised thinking is psychotic — psychosis is a serious illness, it is not an insult. Movies and TV programmes are continuously promoting negative stereotypes and myths associated with Schizophrenia. It is a lot harder to speak up and get help for a condition which carries the weight of such strong misconceptions. Every time Schizophrenia is used for sensationalism, it sets us back. A lot of people, myself included, go on to lead normal, successful lives. Schizophrenia may be a long-term illness, but that does not mean it is unmanageable or untreatable.

    Stigma has delayed my recovery many times. I am OK with having a psychotic illness, but sometimes other people’s ignorance can change that. Every time I experience stigma, it takes away a little bit of the resilience and self-acceptance I have worked so hard to build up. Every time I see my mental health problem used in the media as an explanation for a person’s crime or wrong doing, it can bring on feelings of shame. I feel the need to justify my illness to those who tar us all with the same brush based on negative stereotypes.

    At this point of my life I can honestly say that I have fully accepted and made peace with having Schizophrenia. I even embrace it. I realised that all I was doing before was wishing my life away and putting myself in an angry, miserable place. I was self-stigmatising in a sense. I think everyone who is diagnosed with any kind of long-term illness, whether it be mental or physical, goes through a sort of grieving process for what might have been. I eventually realised there is one thing Schizophrenia cannot take away from me — who I am as a person. My illness does not define me. My own personality is far too important to be overshadowed. No matter how tough things get, I always try to keep my sense humour. I am my own person first and foremost, psychosis is just one tiny part of all the experiences and life lessons that have made me into who I am now. I continue to experience psychotic symptoms every day, but having them for such a long time means I have actually gotten somewhat used to them.

    That’s not to say things have been easy, it’s been a really rough journey, full of ups and downs. Every time I think I’m getting to a place of being content and happy, something always knocks me back. This, I’m afraid, is just how life goes. It is not always fair. I have to constantly manage my condition and be aware of the signs of relapse, which is something I have experienced many times now. If you or someone you love is experiencing psychosis, please know that things will get better. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, nothing in life worth having ever is. There is absolutely no shame is asking for help, no one, no matter how strong, can deal with a mental health problem alone. The important thing to remember is that you are still you. You are unique. You are important. You are loved. And you are so much more than any illness could ever be.

    Nicola Wall, SeeChange Ambassador and Blog Author Pretty Sane

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    The Tsunami Effect http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie/the-tsunami-effect/ Thu, 27 Jul 2017 12:32:23 +0000 http://www.walkinmyshoes.ie/?p=7594 You don’t see a tsunami far out at sea What is Psychosis? This is what it means to me and here is my personal journey. It is Saturday morning, June 3rd 2006. I am looking forward to attending a friend’s wedding with my wife at the time. It is a welcome distraction from my own […]

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    You don’t see a tsunami far out at sea

    What is Psychosis?

    This is what it means to me and here is my personal journey.
    It is Saturday morning, June 3rd 2006. I am looking forward to attending a friend’s wedding with my wife at the time.

    It is a welcome distraction from my own stresses in work. I had not been sleeping properly for months, as I was trying to solve these issues myself without worrying my wife.

    But getting only 3 to 4 hours sleep per night, mostly on the couch, as I didn’t want to disturb my wife, had finally caused the gun to go off in my head.

    I am a night owl anyway and I do overthink a lot. Sometimes, when I sit out the back garden late at night drinking my coffee (decaf these days!) and having a cigarette, I look up at the stars.

    This is when my interest in science, the universe and maths all kick-in. I also think about things from that day and things from the past.

    I just like to ponder, as anybody who knows me knows. I have always pondered about things of interest and life in general.

    That wasn’t the problem though. The negative thoughts from my work environment were now in the mix.

    This is what caused this new sensation in my head, something I had never previously experienced before. Anyway, I can see the humorous side in this now, looking back with a clear and more educated mind in this fascinating field of mental health.

    My wife had come downstairs after she got herself all dolled-up for the wedding to find me talking nonsense to the gardener. I thought I was making complete sense.

    He was cutting the waist-high grass in our back garden as I had let the normal daily chores slip during this period.

    At the same time I was also on the phone to a particular radio station talking to an operator regarding a phone-in topic which was of interest to me.

    I always remember my wife saying on the morning of my first psychotic episode that, “It was like listening to 10 different people at the same time.” The trigger had been squeezed and I now know that it was my brain’s way of discharging all these thoughts (bullets) from the gun.

    Every other thought I had locked away, both recent and from my childhood were opened – The Domino Effect.

    This is when my wife knew there was something seriously wrong mentally with me. To this day I thank her for having me admitted to St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services on that same day.

    My mind was racing at a million miles per hour. I know this sounds odd but one of my own spotting techniques is when I feel a tingling sensation all over my head.

    It’s like the neurotransmitters in my brain are overloaded with these electrical signals. I can feel them bouncing off the inside of my head and trying to get out, a bit like a Van de Graff generator.

    Anyway, here I am and it is 11 years later. I am 44 and talking about these previous events in my life. I know that the only reason I am openly sharing this part of me is because of the intervention taken by my ex-wife, the staff in St. Patrick’s Mental Services who helped me manage my condition through their dedication to this field of mental health and lastly, my own interest to educate myself on this condition.

    The quote, “to overcome fear of the unknown is to educate yourself about it” comes to mind.

    Unfortunately, the stigma is still out there due to lack of understanding and education.

    However, the more we can talk and open up, and also listen without discriminating or judging, the more we can help others. Some people don’t cope as well as others.

    The person may not be aware of the length of time spent in this mental state of mind, but maybe the people on the outside looking in will notice it quicker. People who are close such as family, friends or work colleagues.

    If you notice a change in someone’s mood or behaviour, no matter how slight, and if it is prolonged, then that is the time to say or do something about it.

    If not to the person directly, maybe speak with someone else, like a family member or another friend. They may be able to speak to the affected person or contact one of the many mental health helplines. Always go with your gut instinct because a lot of the time the person caught up in the middle can’t see it themselves.

    I did not notice it myself. You don’t see a tsunami far out at sea. You only see it when the waves get higher as it approaches the shallows of the shoreline. At that stage it’s too late.

    With help, I have learned how to detect these triggers so that I can remove myself from its path, but I still have to be vigilant of my condition.

    Stephen Burke, SUAS (Service Users & Supporters Council) Chairperson, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services

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