It would be a bit much to say they are friends. But they are very fond of each other and meet up as often as they can which is about twice a year. They both care deeply for young people and support each other’s work. One is a dedicated mother of five. Keeps a beautiful house and garden. Cooks the best food. Sews gorgeous clothes and looks amazing. The second woman has one child who stopped living a few years ago. She doesn’t care much about her house or garden. Can’t use a sewing machine. Doesn’t pay much attention to her appearance.
The second woman appreciates the first one’s invitation to lunch. They sit at the dining table on top of which appear five large aromatic dishes straight from the oven – roasties, grilled carrots and broccoli, kale chips and baked salmon marinated in exotic spices.
As they settle down with their plates, the first woman starts “My Anne has been challenging since she was little. When she was six and we lived in South America, she got it in her head that she wanted to make a cloth tent. We went to the shops and she chose the materials in the green colour she likes. I put it together the best I could and then she wanted buttons and ribbons to go on it and I did all of that. When the tent was ready, I put it up in the living room before she returned from school with great anticipation. She took one look at it and declared “I no like.” She kicked it. It went lopsided and she went up the stairs to her room.”
“My Mike is dreadfully over-confident. He can charm anyone into telling him their secrets. He can make anyone laugh ….. And my Noel! He’s a big architect in Leeds and I love his girl-friend. She is so down-to-Earth. I am so glad they found each other …. And when they asked me what I wanted for my birthday …. And when we all went on a holiday ….. And when they got engaged …. And my Lisa! She is such a good designer. She comes up with original patterns for her tops and I stitch them for her. She carries her dresses like a model …. And my youngest… Oh! He’s full of ….”
The second woman places her attention on the delicious meal. She has no invitation to speak.
Most life assurance providers exclude suicide within first year of the policy.
A benefit scheme run by Utility Warehouse is called Bill Protector. It’s for Utility Warehouse customers, and basically between £2-9 per month added onto your premium. This gives cover for your bills should you lose your income due to illness, injury or redundancy. There is also an accidental death cover.
The illness cover excludes mental health. The basis of this is because it’s ‘hard to prove’. The attitude of the underwriters seems to be that people could go to their GP and simply say ‘I’m depressed’ when they’re not and be signed off work. This is in part due to an industry-wide attempt to combat insurance ‘fraud’.
It is interesting that mental health was covered until July 2016 and then they decided to write it out.
What annoys me most is that this is sold to customers as cover for bills in the event of illness, and then when they call to make a claim, they’re essentially told that their mental health difficulties don’t qualify as an illness – it’s the same old issue of perceptions and attitudes towards mental health. I think if there are going to be any restrictions like this, it should be made abundantly clear.
We as a society treat mental and physical health just the same. Don’t we?
The national conversation on mental health and wellbeing is growing. Tackling stigma, raising awareness and providing help for people with mental health challenges sit on top of the agenda. Big names take the lead. Royals of state and sport speak up. Banners shine and flags fly high. The CEO of Virgin Money, the main sponsor of the London Marathon speaks on national radio about her perinatal depression.
Heads Together Charity has been set up by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge along with Prince Harry to ensure that people feel comfortable with their everyday mental wellbeing, feel able to support their friends and families through difficult times, and that stigma no longer prevents people getting help they need.
Rio Ferdinand, Katherine Welby Roberts and many others come forward to make short films about their experiences of bereavement and depression. Jonny Benjamin gets awarded an MBE for his work. Newspapers and TV are more open to discussing these issues.
It’s happening. The seeds have been sown. There is hope.
“Random thoughts”, he said, looking perplexed. “I keep getting these random thoughts.”
“Thoughts of what exactly?” I would ask.
I didn’t know how to explore any further.
He confided in at least 3 men he trusted about his suicidal thoughts and none of them knew what to do.
He specifically told them not to tell me about it. He even shared his plan with one of them. But he did not know what to do.
Not his fault.
No one is taught what to do in a situation like that.
How would you feel if some one came up to you and said they were seriously considering ending it all?
Calm and confident knowing exactly what to do as if you were being asked to do CPR?
What would you do?
Break into a sweat?
Think they are kidding?
‘Fix it’ for them?
Take them to A&E?
Ask them to see their GP?
Connect them to the Samaritans?
Tell them to get over it because life is beautiful?
Yesterday I watched a video of a skilful conversation between a suicidal person and a person in a position to help. It was a caring and respectful exchange designed to model an evidence based framework which has been developed over 30 years by LivingWorks whose mission is to create a life-affirming suicide-safer world (https://www.livingworks.net/programs/asist/). It made me cry floods of tears as I was reminded why the poor bugger didn’t have a hope in hell. Even his doctor didn’t know CPR or what would be CPR for him. The video was a part of the ASIST Course (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training). Regardless of prior experience LivingWorks enable ordinary people to provide suicide first aid. They have training programmes lasting from 90 minutes to 2 days. Shown by major studies to significantly reduce suicidality, LivingWorks courses teach effective intervention skills while helping to reduce stigma and raise awareness.
While speaking with the trainers of ASIST it emerged that the most difficult group to train is GPs as they can never make time. The last General Practice who contacted them wanted them to come at lunch time for half an hour and provide training and lunch for all staff members in that time.