Mental Health Promotion in Ireland.

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Identify two strategies for mental health promotion and describe how they can impact on the perceptions of mental health within your community. 600-800 words. Health is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’ [(WHO, 2001a)In discussing 2 strategies for Mental health promotion as opposed the Physical health awareness I would like to highlight the changes in community perceptions of mental health in Leitrim since I first attended Primary School in 1970.

On my day at school amidst all the excitement and obvious apprehension I distinctly remember a little girl sitting in the back row of the classroom rocking back and forth on her chair as she sucked her thumb . By lunchtime on that first day everyone in class knew that the suspicious looking puddle under her desk was Pee. I remember her being mimicked and teased at break time by the older children in the playground. When lunchtime was over and everyone returned to the classroom that little girl was nowhere to be seen.

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Over forty years have passed since my first day at school and I know that little girl is still in state care. Today as Easter break is almost over and my own children are returning to the same school, awareness of mental health and wellbeing amongst both Teachers and children has thankfully reached a much less stigmatised plateau. There are no dummies at school anymore; there are kids with special needs who integrate within the classroom setting as much as is possible and are also afforded time with a dedicated special needs teacher.

The term Mentally handicapped isn’t heard in the playground anymore and because of this all the traditional backward stigma that was once attached to children who were different has thankfully dissipated as their individuality and special talents are highlighted and encouraged. ” school age children form a Vulnerable group, and hence, a readily accessible target for mental health promotion activities. ”(WHO, 2004. ) Social inclusion is being fostered at an early age so children are used to being around other children with special needs and positive attitudes towards adults with mental health issues are being encouraged. Schools are obvious locations for mental health promotion programmes that target issues such as improving problem-solving abilities and the reduction of substance abuse, bullying and aggression. (Sturgeon,2007. )Anti bullying campaigns in Irish schools are helping to educate children of the seriousness of teasing, excluding and ridiculing both in person and through the use of social media. (Action plan on Bullying ,2013. )It has been established that 50% of all mental illnesses are indicated by the age of 14. WHO, 2004. )Mental Health awareness amongst teachers and caregivers is paramount to fostering positive mental health and also identifying young people who may be suffering either socially or genetically from Mental health difficulties.

Even with all the advances in both mental health awareness and the removal of stigmas attached to mental health issues in schools, Ireland and particularly rural Ireland is still plagued by suicide amongst its young people. (Connolly. And Cullen, A. 1997. Whilst ongoing research into the numerous factors both Socially, Psychologically and emotionally that lead young people to take their own lives(Brown,J. and Cohen,P. 1999) continues. , a range of promotions are in operation to highlight this issue. Organisations such as AWARE, whose mission statement is” Aware works to create a society where people who experience depression and related mood disorders, and their families, are understood and supported, are free from stigma and have access to a broad range of support options. ” (AWARE, 1985. The organisation provides face to face , phone and online support to people who may be suffering from depression. Its integrated website and use of social media helps promotes empathy towards sufferers and links to an array of organisations that people can turn to. One of its programmes “Beat the Blues” is used in secondary schools to reinforce the importance of looking at the positive aspects of young people’s lives . It also enables young people to recognise the symptoms of depression and anxiety while encouraging resilience. It further introduces the concept of the ”Coping Triangle”.

This tool enables teenagers to illustrate and comprehend their Feelings, Thoughts and Actions regarding any event which occurs in their lives. The “beat the blues” programme proved to be one of the most successful initiatives ever undertaken in our local secondary school in Drumshanbo. With funding from both government agencies as well as sponsorship from companies like TESCO the programme is due to be added to our secondary school curriculum on a yearly basis. AWARE is also mindful of the huge part that social media plays in getting information to young people.

It currently has almost 10k friends on Facebook and 5k to 6k active followers on twitter. Though both strategies at primary and secondary level schools have increased mental health awareness in my community, a lot remains to be done. The stigma around suicide still remains in the older generations. Cyber bullying is still a factor when many young people take their own lives. A culture of setting up Facebook pages to pay tribute to suicide victims tends to glorify the act and in some ways can lead to the misconception that one is more loved when one is gone.

References. Sturgeon, D. Health Promotion International Volume 21 December 2006 International Handbook of Suicide Prevention: Research, Policy and Practice Connolly et al. 1997. Childhood Abuse and Neglect: Specificity of Effects on Adolescent and Young Adult Depression and Suicidality. Brown, J, Cohen, P. et al College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York 1999 WHO (Word Health Organisation) (2001) The World health report: 2001: Guidelines aim to prevent suicide among teens. www. irishhealth. com.

New national Guidelines on promoting positive mental health and suicide prevention in post-primary schools www. education. ie/en/Press-Events/Press-Releases/2013 www. hse. ie www. aware. ie. www. drugsandalcohol. ie/ http://www. mentalhealth. org. uk/our-work/mentalhealthawarenessweek/ http://www. mentalhealth. org. uk/our-work/mentalhealthawarenessweek/ Mental health promotion: Guidance and strategies G. Kalra a, G. Christodoulou b, R. Jenkins c, V. Tsipas d, N. Christodoulou e, D. Lecic-Tosevski f, J. Mezzich g, D. Bhugra c,* Department of Psychiatry, Lokmanya Tilak Medical College and General Hospital, Sion, Mumbai 400 022, India b Hellenic Psychiatric Association, Papadiamantopoulou 11 str, 115 28 Athens, Greece c Health Service and Population Research Department, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK d Hellenic Psychiatric Association, 11 Papadiamantopoulou Str, 11528 Athens, Greece eWPA Section of Preventive Psychiatry, 57c Blomfield Road, London W9 2PA, UK f Department of Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health, University of Belgrade, Palmoticeva 37, University of Belgrade, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia g International Centre for Mental Health, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Fifth Avenue & 100th Street, Box 1093, New York, NY 10029-6574, USA 1. Introduction Promotion of mental health overlaps with prevention in many aspects, yet both of them are also distinct in that the emphasis in mental health promotion is on positive mental health (what can be done to keep people healthy or to become even healthier) rather than illness prevention (what can be done to avoid illness).

Mental well-being is an important part of one’s being but it is not always seen as important by the clinicians as we are taught to deal with illness although this is changing certainly in Europe fairly rapidly. Prevention of ill health and promotion of well-being go hand in hand. This Guidance should be read in conjunction with the EPA Guidance on prevention (Campion et al. ). This paper focuses on mental health promotion and what it means in dealing with distress which may contribute to mental illness. The aim of the paper is to explain some strategies clinicians may find useful. The paper reviews the literature and provides indicative evidence. 2. Definitions

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