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Peo­ple liv­ing with men­tal health prob­lems have opened up to the Re­former about their ex­pe­ri­ences.

The trio, who have all been sup­ported by Healthy n Happy, were talk­ing af­ter Scot­land’s sui­cide fig­ures for 2016 were re­leased.

Forty-four peo­ple took their own lives in South La­nark­shire in 2016.

The num­ber is the high­est recorded since 2013 and rep­re­sents an in­crease of 10 on 2015.

The fig­ure was re­leased by the Na­tional Records of Scot­land as com­mu­nity ac­tivists warn the vast ma­jor­ity of peo­ple who take their own lives are not known to men­tal health ser­vices.

Joy Mitchell, who works with peo­ple with men­tal health prob­lems in her role at Healthy n’ Happy Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Trust, said the an­nual fig­ures only tell half the story.

She said: “The fig­ures show only 25 per cent of those who com­plete sui­cide are in touch with men­tal health ser­vices. That’s 75 per cent of peo­ple who aren’t. Quite of­ten it is in­di­vid­u­als that do not have a di­ag­no­sis that don’t get the sup­port they need at that time be­cause they don’t fit into that box.

“Some­one who is feel­ing very over­whelmed with life, for their men­tal health there is no di­ag­no­sis for that nor should there be. It is not nec­es­sar­ily a flow that some­one’s health de­te­ri­o­rates, they get a di­ag­no­sis and th­ese peo­ple act on suicidal thoughts.”

Pas­sion­ate that ev­ery­one looks af­ter their men­tal health, Joy said as proac­tive ap­proach could make peo­ple more re­silient when fac­ing a cri­sis and equip them with the abil­ity to seek help within their fam­ily and wider com­mu­nity when they need it.

“It’s about gen­er­at­ing good health,” she said. “It’s not ‘what treat­ment can you give me for com­pro­mised health?’, it’s about gen­er­at­ing pos­i­tive men­tal health and well­be­ing within ev­ery­one. It may re­duce di­ag­no­sis and en­sure peo­ple are well re­gard­less of a men­tal health di­ag­no­sis.”

One woman who has been helped by Healthy n Happy said she has learned that peo­ple with­out a men­tal health con­di­tion can still suf­fer from poor men­tal health.

“The Scot­tish Men­tal Health First Aid Course high­lights that you can have a men­tal health con­di­tion but have good men­tal health and have no con­di­tion but have bad men­tal health,” she said.

“I’m a real be­liever in holis­tic health. We can’t ex­pect the doc­tors and tablets to keep us well. That’s what’s miss­ing in the NHS. They don’t en­cour­age you to do things such as stress man­age­ment and re­lax­ation.

“Th­ese things make you feel more in con­trol.

“I wouldn’t be as good as I am if I didn’t do th­ese things to self help.”

Su­san McMor­rin, NHS La­nark­shire se­nior health pro­mo­tion of­fi­cer, said: “Since the late 1990s the five-year rolling av­er­age for sui­cide in South La­nark­shire has shown a gen­eral de­cline.

“While this is en­cour­ag­ing, we are well aware that a lot of work is still re­quired to help re­duce the stigma of men­tal ill-health and en­cour­age peo­ple to seek help if they re­quire sup­port for their men­tal health.

“Re­cent sui­cide pre­ven­tion work in South La­nark­shire has fo­cused on tack­ling the taboo of sui­cide through ini­tia­tives such as the ‘Sui­cide: Don’t hide it. Talk about it’ cam­paign and pro­mot­ing tele­phone sup­port avail­able from the Sa­mar­i­tans, Breath­ing Space and in­for­ma­tion on the web­site www.ela­ment. org.uk.”

Iso­la­tion Los­ing friends can make men­tal health prob­lems worse

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