This series of posts features the winners of grants from the ‘UWC Atlantic College – Go Make A Difference’ initiative sponsored by Jill Longson and Colin Habgood. UWC AC GoMAD has reached it’s 10th Aniversary of Grants. Read other GoMAD 2011 projects here. Lindsay Riddoch’s 1,000 Voices Campaign recieved a £750 grant under the UWC AC GoMAD 2011 initiative.
Lindsay Riddoch (Scotland, UWC AC 2009-11)
“I wish people could understand me more”. This sort of rhetoric is often heard amongst the 1 in 4 people suffering from mental health issues. While this may sound like a cliché of teenage angst there is much evidence that there is a deeper problem when it comes to young people, in particular, accessing the kind of support they need when suffering from mental health problems.
Try to imagine having spent years of your life battling an inner demon, coming close to beating it and failing every time; losing friends, and gaining distance from your family. And then deciding that enough was enough, that you needed help and you needed it now; talking to that one person who’s there for you, booking a doctor’s appointment, heading to the doctor’s surgery more scared than you’ve ever been in your life. And the doctor telling you that you’re fine. You need to sleep a bit more, but you don’t need serious help. Or if you do that he can’t give it to you. That, I’m afraid, is the reality of the situation that thousands of young people in Great Britain face; in fact two thirds of the people with mental health problems who build up the confidence to go and see a GP (which only about 80% ever do) will not be diagnosed.
As far as I am concerned this is not an acceptable state of affairs on any of level. If there was this kind of mass negligence in diagnosing say, diabetes there would be national outrage; and quite rightly so. In my opinion that outrage isn’t there for two main reasons; firstly those people who are let down by these services are often some of the most vulnerable people in the country, and not those who have the confidence to stand up and say that “I’ve been wronged.” More importantly, there is still an underlying consensus that mental illness isn’t that big a deal, and that when we realise that it is a big deal because we see people we love get hurt by it, we don’t talk about it. This is simply not acceptable.
It is claimed that 75% of us know someone who is experiencing mental illness. So three quarters of you reading this right now know someone whose mind is ill, but do you know about it? And if you do, how often have you told the story? How often have you let people know how big an effect it had on your life?
And if it’s you; if you’ve been trapped inside the darkness of your own mind and felt like you were losing it, if there are days when you don’t know how many more times you can fight this off, then how often are you honest with people? How many times do you look your friends in the eye and tell them how you’ve been screwed over, all the problems you’ve faced, or how you really feel?
Well, I want you to do it now. Write a story, draw a picture, write a poem. However you want to do it. Tell your story. And by doing it you’re not only helping others tell theirs but your helping to raise awareness for the issue of mental illness in Great Britain.