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.”
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