Advice, Uncategorized

The Inbetweeners of Mental Health

A friend and reader, Tracey, suggested today’s blog topic.

The issue of the ‘inbetweeners’ of mental health seems to be a problem many people have experienced at one stage or another. It’s the transition stage between what the NHS class as childhood and adulthood. It is the point in which an existing or newly referred patient, over the age of 16, is moved on to adult services.

The UK’s leading charity in improving young people’s mental health services, YoungMinds, are currently campaigning to improve transition care from child and adolescent mental health services to adult services, preventing young people from getting ‘lost in the system’.

And there are many who are being left in the dark when it comes to receiving the support they need from mental health services.

Did you know that when young people reach the age of 16 or 17, they are no longer eligible for support from CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service)?

But more worrying is that they are often much too young or do not meet the strict criteria to be referred to AMHS (Adult Mental Health Services) as they may be classed as ‘not ill enough’.

So where does that leave these ‘inbetweeners’?

It puts them in a position where, ultimately, they are not able to access any of the services that could help them on their way to recovery. This is a dangerous position to be in for any young person suffering from mental illness.

So why do these issues occur exactly? And what could be done to change them?

First of all, the criteria for support through AMHS is very different to that of CAMHS. AMHS point of entry for treatment is a lot more difficult to meet than CAMHS in regards to the severity of the individual’s mental health. For example, AMHS will often only intervene when a young person has reached a crisis point or are deemed as a danger to themselves or others while those under 16 will often be referred to CAMHS before their illness advances to such stages.

As mentioned in my previous blog, this is where early intervention is key and can not only save a young person’s life but would prevent a young person from having to access more advanced mental health services (such as inpatient facilities) at a later age. If these services and resources are offered to a young person as soon as issues surface, they are able to better equip themselves with the techniques or methods they need to prevent a relapse in their mental health in the future.

This current gap in young people’s mental health care is very worrying and an issue many may not be aware of unless they themselves have tried to gain access. Young people who are no longer able to access CAMHS are waiting long periods of time to reach the correct age for AMSH services, which can’t start until the individual reaches 18.

This huge gap and subsequently, further delays in referral can mean many young people ‘give up’ on transitioning to adult services and therefore never get the treatment they need, having a huge effect on their future mental wellbeing with potentially dangerous consequences. Young people are in essence ’disappearing’ from these services and falling off the radar.

There is also the added funding stress on the NHS, with services in particular areas receiving less funding in mental health services than others, meaning fewer funds for each patient and therefore a lower referral rate. There is a variation from county to county as to what age is classed as eligible for transfer to adult services also. For example, a 16-year-old may transfer to AMHS if they are no longer within full-time education. If they are still in education, they will often not be transferred until they are 18 years of age, showing a contradiction between counties within the NHS.

These young people are being passed from pillar to post. A lack of communication is also present between the two services. Neither CAMHS nor AMHS appears to be making the effort to work in line with each other. This leads to information not being passed between the two mental health services and therefore, many young people will have to undergo another assessment before entering treatment. Understandably, this can also be quite traumatic for a young person.

These services need to provide continuity and routine for already venerable young people.

Between the ages of 16 to 18, young people with mental health are probably at their most venerable. They are often making important decisions about their education. Should they stay for further education or apply for an apprenticeship?

They will often have to make more intense life decisions about relationships and friendships as well.

So why, at their most venerable, are they being turned away from the support they need more than ever?

It’s a frustrating and worrying time for both young people and parents when they are left in this limbo period, often feeling as though their concerns are not being heard or ‘don’t matter’.

The Government invested £54 million in improving young people’s mental health services between 2011 and 2015. Yet young people are still not getting access to the services they need.

Have you or your child experienced the gap in services? How do you think the NHS could improve on this?

Leave me a comment!

Resources: 

http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/children-and-young-people/

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/jul/29/chilld-and-adolescent-mental-health-service-failing-children

http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/about-us/what-are-we-doing/children-and-young-people

http://www.youngminds.org.uk/

Georgia 

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Advice, Uncategorized

Mental health and young people: Is there a lack of support?

Yesterday (11th April 2016), CentreForum, the independent think-tank published a report, which revealed that nearly a quarter of children and teenagers on average are turned away by mental health services after being referred by their GP’s, teachers or others.

CentreForum found that this was due to service’s having ‘high thresholds’ for access to their services, revealed after analysis of the service’s eligibility criteria.

In the report, CentreForum stated that these high thresholds for treatment eligibility prevent one of the most effective forms of mental health treatment for young people- early intervention.

It was also found that young people were waiting for prolonged periods of time to access treatment with the average of the longest waiting times being almost 10 months between the first GP/school referral and the beginning of their treatment. This, along with a lack of funding for mental health services in certain areas of the UK shows a worrying escalation in the support offered to young people suffering from mental illness.

This report has been released in the same week that a UK bereavement charity pushed for a full investigation by the Government into the way deaths of young people in mental health units are recorded. An inquest suggested that nine young people had died as in- patients within mental health facilities since 2010.

This only solidifies that there is a considerable lack of support for young people suffering from mental illness.

Early intervention is key.

Depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses suffered by children and teenagers will often by present at a young age. Certain behaviour such as a change in sleeping patterns, irritability, loss of interest in certain activities and withdrawal from socialisation can often be clear indications of a young person who is carrying the black dog. Some people may question whether this is just the behaviour of a typical teenager. But this behaviour will often extend to prolonged periods of time with little to no change in mood.

This will often affect a young person’s school or college life, resulting in low grades, bad behaviour or low attendance. These warning signs should be a clear indication that further investigation is needed.

Intervening as soon as a problem is spotted can allow schools to offer the right support and advice for the affected young person as soon as possible. All too often, a young person who has suffered from mental illness will have gone throughout their school life with little to no mental wellbeing support. I know of quite a few young adults who suffer from depression or anxiety and have done from a young age, yet never had anyone listen to their issues or offer support which could have allowed them to receive the treatment they needed much earlier.

Is it the lack of funding? Or a higher demand?

The reality is that figures show funding levels for NHS mental health care in England have dropped by 2 percent in recent years. This lack of funding leads to long waiting lists and less accessibility to the services, which are desperately needed to prevent the potential suicide and self-harm of young people. It also puts a strain on charities that rely solely on donations to provide young people support such as Samaritans and Child Line.

There is also the higher demand for these services due to the rise in mental illness in young people. Statistics by YoungMinds.org.uk show that young people between the ages of 15 to 16 with depression doubled between the 1980’s and the 2000’s, showing there is a constant increase in the amount of young people being diagnosed with mental heath issues. This could be due to a lack of knowledge in previous years or maybe just the way our society has changed its views on mental health. Regardless of what has caused this higher demand for services, these resources need to be available to prevent an increase in suicide levels in adulthood as well as self-harm in young people, which is believed to affect 13 percent of children and teenagers between the ages of 11 to 16.

We shouldn’t have to lose a young person due to a lack of support and funding for life-saving services.

If you have been affected by the topics discussed in this post, please contact the following organisations for support:

Mind 

Young Minds 

Parents or teachers in Bedfordshire.

Georgia OX

 

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

5 small things that make me happy

*Image taken by myself in Cornwall. Ask for use.

Catching up with an old friend over a cuppa.

There is nothing I love more then a good ol’ chinwag and some gossip. Friends will often come in and out of your life, especially as you get older. But the special friendships will last a lifetime. It makes me to happy when I get to chill with a friend and reminisce of a simpler time, like when Busted breaking up was your biggest stress. If you haven’t spoken to a friend in a while, drop them a message and arrange to meet somewhere for lunch or invite them over to your place. It could brighten your day.

Hot chocolate.

The elixir of love (not really but it’s blooming good stuff.) It’s a bit like a warm hug isn’t it? I can count of hot chocolate to bring a smile to face when I’m feeling a bit under the whether.

A Netflix binge.

There’s always a gripping box set to catch on Netflix. Whether you’re obsessed with real crime shows (waves hand up in the air) or more of a drama addict, you’ll be sure to find a binge worthy watch. I watched Making a Murderer in two days before Christmas (10 hours worth of show)… #truelifestorybro.

My other suggestions include Scream; Orange is the New Black and the first series of The Killing. There is nothing better then losing yourself in a good story.

The sea and/or a beach

The sound of waves, the sand between your toes and the breeze in your hair are just a few of the reasons I would quite happily live by the sea. I’m a bit like a frantic puppy when I see a beach. Although it has a calming effect on me, it also makes me super giddy like I’m at Disneyland. Maybe I was a dolphin in a previous life, who knows?

My dog running about like a loon.

I let me dog off the lead in the park the other day and he literally ran about for 20 minutes like he’d never seen grass before. He makes me smile so much when he bounces about with excitement. What did human beings do to deserve such wonderful creatures?

 

What are five small things that make you happy?

If you’re feeling a bit down, go and do one of the small things on your list. Whether it’s a certain food, a walk in the park or a book you haven’t read in a while, go and give it ago! You might find it gives you a reason to smile this week.

Have a great weekend, G

 

Advice

Top 5 Apps for Managing Anxiety

Calm

Free

This mindfulness meditation app is a great introduction for beginners of meditation techniques. It’s a popular app, which allows for guided meditation programs alongside peaceful background noise of your choosing.

Its features include:

A personal profile.

This includes a calendar to track your recent meditation sessions and compare your progression.

Customisable scenes for your background noise.

There are a few that come as default on the app, but you can download more depending on what you find most relaxing. All are free. This is a newer update, which was added so that you can whittle down your favourite scenes, and access them easily from your home page without flicking through a number of scenes before you find the one that works best for you.

Guided Meditation

If you choose to use the guided meditation you can pick a specific program. The default one is called 7 days of Calm. Using the app for seven consecutive days will allow you to see any changes in your mood and find out if this app works for you.

There are also two default-guided meditations for the app. These are Calm and Body Scan. If you pay for Calm Pro, either monthly or annually, you can access meditation for specific issues or areas of your life you wish to improve. These include problems with sleep, concentration, commuting and confidence.

Timer

Allows you to have control over how long your meditation sessions last. They can last from 1 minute up to 240 minutes. You also have the option to change the sound that plays when your session has ended (so don’t pick anything that sounds like an alarm bell or it may wake you abruptly!)

Panic Attack Aid (P.A.A)

£2.99

A helpful app for anyone who suffers from Panic Attack Disorder or frequent panic attacks with his or her anxiety. This app features a number of activities to ease symptoms during a panic attack and calm the mind.

These include:

A Breathing Exercise

This uses the movement of a circle to regulate and slow breathing. We often over breath during a panic attack which causes hyperventilation. This exercise allows you to relax your breathing and also gives positive, calming mantras to read and repeat to yourself.

Reassurance

This part of the app includes explanations for symptoms of panic attacks, helping to reassure your racing mind and calm your thoughts. The reassuring explanations are also tailored to your location.

Distraction Exercises

This is my favourite section of the app. This section features exercises and games, which should allow you to focus your mind and therefore, be distracted from your panic attack.

MindShift

Free

This app gives some great insight into anxiety and is laid out like a journal.

This app includes strategies for most anxiety disorders (including Social Anxiety) but would also be helpful for those looking for tools to manage:

  • Test Anxiety (Driving test or exams)
  • Performance Anxiety
  • General Worry and Panic
  • Dealing with Conflict

Its features include:

Anxiety 101

These are clear explanations to why we suffer from anxiety and why it makes us react the way we do (for example, it explains what the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism is as well as where our anxiety comes from)

This feature is helpful for anyone who wants more insight into anxiety and may not have had the chance to do his or her own research yet. It is easily explained and to the point.

Situations

This allows you to address situations you would like help with such as ‘taking charge of panic’.

Check Yourself

Allows you to recognise what issues you may have with your anxiety and how it can affect you.

Thinking Right

Allows you to identify more positive and helpful thoughts, which you can favourite, making them more easily accessible from the main page.

Chill Out Tools which include:

Relaxation Exercises (Calm Breathing and ‘Tense and Release’ for tension caused by Anxiety)

Visualization (Mental Vacation)

Mindfulness strategies (Body Scan and Mindful Breathing)

Active Steps

Gives you strategies you can use in everyday life to overcome your anxiety or panic attacks. These include exposure and coping techniques.

The app also has an inspiration section, which gives you a selection of positive quotes to reflect upon and read when needed.

Anxiety UK

Free

The charity, which helps to support people with Anxiety Disorders, has a very helpful app for those looking for advice from other people diagnosed with anxiety.

It allows you to take a questionnaire to better understand what may be causing your anxiety. I do recommend that people visit their GP before self-diagnosing though to make sure they are not suffering from other medical issues.

You can hear helpful tips from other members of the Anxiety UK community as well as professionals in the mental health sector as well as create your own tips for other users.

This app also includes some links for more information on all anxiety disorders as well as personal experiences from members of the charity.

Pacifica

Free

This app allows you to track your mood as well as your health. This is a helpful way to check how your daily activities may be affecting your mental health such as your diet, water intake and exercise.

You can also check your progress through a graph to check how your mood changes according to changes in your daily activities and using the apps features.

Each day you can update the app with your mood. The app will then give you access to a selection of activates which could improve your mood and help you manage your stress or anxiety.

These include:

  • Meditations
  • Relaxation Techniques
  • Daily Challenges (Small, achievable goals for that day)
  • Thoughts Journal
  • Community (discussions by other app users)

*Not SPR

Advice

Topshop: STOP glamorising self-harm!

TRIGGER WARNING

Self-harm is a serious symptom of mental health issues and low self-esteem.

It is not a fashion statement.

So why is Topshop currently selling temporary metallic tattoos that appear to depict self-mutilation as if they are the ‘next big fashion trend’.

The golden scar tattoos were created in conjunction with a new range of accessories the popular retail store have created to encourage and celebrate loving ones self. The temp tattoos, which have become a popular accessories for the summer festivalgoer for the last few years, were designed in collaboration with a jewellery design student from Central State Martins and currently retail at £8.50 a pack. The packaging also shows the slogan ‘Scars worth fighting for’.

Topshop Tattoos Gold

But rather then being met with the positive and empowering response the fashion brand had hoped for, the tattoos have been met with distain and disgust by many people across the net.

This isn’t the first time Topshop have come under fire for their ‘distasteful’ and inappropriate use of mental health issues to promote fashion.

Last year the British retailers were selling clutch bags with the slogan ‘Stressed, depressed but well dressed’ which they soon pulled from their stories after receiving backlash.

Using mental health problems to create ‘fashion statements’ seems to be a worrying and ever popular technique of selling clothes and accessories for a number of high street stores. One of the most high profile being Urban Outfitters, who have produced various garments in the last few years which openly glamorize mental health issues, such as their ‘Eat Less’ t-shirt and the ‘Depression’ crop top.

So let me jump straight into it. There is no doubt in my mind that the products I’ve just mentioned were created and sold to cause offense and upset. Unless you are a child under the age of eight who can’t use their own initiative or intelligence to understand that a t-shirt that read’s ‘Eat less’ is most definitely glamorizing anorexia, then there is no excuse to produce clothing which has such a message.

But I could, in some way, understand where Topshop might have been coming from with these metallic temporary tattoos. Celebrating our flaws and our ‘scars’ rather than being ashamed of our personal struggles is an ideology our society should aspire to and any public figure that encourages this is doing right in my book. Yet, there is no doubt that Topshop have gone about this in the completely wrong way.

The official target market for Topshop is currently 15 to 30 years old.

When I was a youngster, wearing Topshop clothing was something to aspire to. Although pricey, young people are drawn to the shop for its catwalk inspired couture and on-trend statement pieces. The popular vloggers are all wearing it, so why shouldn’t they?

And this is exactly why these temporary tattoos, regardless of the innocent intention of their creation, need to be taken down from Topshop shelves.

Just like the current trend of denim dungarees, there is always the concern that these fashionable accessories could become of ‘aspiration’ to young people who may see the stick-on scars as a ‘fashionable craze’ they should all join.

It all links into the misconception self-harm is often tainted with; that harming one’s self is a form of ‘attention seeking’ or a ‘teenage craze’.

Mental health charities and ambassadors are still finding they come across this misunderstanding in today’s society.

They have spent much time trying to raise awareness and educate people on the truth about self-harm yet actions such as the one’s taken by Topshop completely undermine their efforts.

Fashion and self-harm should never have to be in the same sentence.

The seriousness of self-harm has been completely misjudged by Topshop.

Over half of people who die due to suicide will have previously self-harmed. 1 in 5 young people will suffer from mental health issues.

These statistics are often forgotten by retailers who create such products purely for profit, a profit which even when argued ‘holds a positive message’ will not go towards charities or organisations which work to help the very people who have to ‘fight their flaws’.

Stop glamorizing self-harm. No amount of gold metallic paint will cover the pain and darkness that hides within self-harm. A transferable sticker isn’t going to raise awareness of mental health. If anything it will belittle the many people who struggle with it day in, day out. It’s not a trend and it certainly isn’t a fashion statement that should be encouraged in young, impressionable people.

Education is key and the misuse of an issue as serious as mental health for brand promotion is both wrong and exploitative.

If you know someone who self-harms or you personally have been affected by this story, please seek help and professional guidance. There are a number of organisations out there that can help and support young people and adults struggling with mental health issues.

If you are looking to help a friend who is self-harming, remember that it’s important to listen and leave judgement at the door. When someone is struggling with mental health issues as well as self-harm, they will feel alone and isolated. They may not want to speak to anyone about it.

Self-harm and mental illness should NEVER be seen as shameful as many people suffer alone when they shouldn’t have to.

You can visit these sites to get more information and advice;

http://www.nshn.co.uk/

http://www.harmless.org.uk/

http://www.mind.org.uk/

G

Advice

5 Useful Ways to Deal with Anxiety Based Insomnia

When you have insomnia, you’re never really asleep… and you’re never really awake.

Fight Club

Anyone who has ever suffered from Insomnia, either short term or long term, will know how frustrating it can be.

Like staying hydrated and eating nutritious foods, a healthy sleep routine is pretty essential to maintaining a positive lifestyle.

But what if you can’t seem to get the sleep you need?

What if, no matter how much you toss and turn you just can’t seem to get comfortable?

You’ve tried counting sheep and those wooly bastards are just driving you two stops away from insanity road.

You’ve tried a spot of reading, but not even 50 shades of Grey can send you into a plentiful slumber.

You are at a complete loss.

Insomnia is most commonly caused by stress and anxiety but can be a symptom of other mental illnesses such as depression and bipolar.

When we think of insomnia, we often think of a lack of sleep. But insomnia is also characterized by not obtaining a restful enough sleep, which in scientific terms, means you are not gaining enough rest within the REM stage (the deepest stage of sleep). You may believe you are sleeping well but will often have the typical symptoms of an Insomniac.

These symptoms can include:

  • Tiredness and sleepiness during the daytime
  • Irritability and feelings of anxiousness
  • Difficulty holding your concentration or attention to tasks
  • Forgetfulness
  • Increased errors within work/educational environments
  • Tension headaches
  • Digestive problems
  • Increased worry about sleep

If you are suffering from insomnia, you’ve probably been told a million times how you should be getting seven to eight hours of sleep. And if anything, it’s just raising your anxiety even higher.

So I’ll be speaking about 5 helpful tips that I’ve found can alleviate Insomnia both short term and long term.

(However, before you take up any of these tips, please remember to see your GP if you are finding it very difficult to function during the day with Insomnia. Your GP can do a health check to make sure you have no medical issues and can refer you for help either with a sleeping disorder or anxiety/depression.)

Download Calm App by Calm.com

This genius little app is an amazing find that I downloaded last year when my anxiety was keeping me up. I found it while researching mindfulness meditation.

You don’t need any silver balls or crossed legs to use this app so don’t let the word ‘meditation’ put you off.

It’s completely free to use, but you can purchase a monthly subscription, which allows you to access meditations specifically for certain problems (such as lack of confidence or sleep disorders)

But the free features are amazing by themselves and allow you to free your mind from current worries by creating a calm mindset in the present time. You can also change the time setting for your meditation session. A calm mindset will allow you to sleep better.

Set up a Sleep Routine

Set up a scheduled routine to commit to each night. This can include relaxing an hour or two before sleeping, making sure you turn off all electronically devices, drinking a hot drink and going to bed at a decent time (which is not necessarily your definition of a ‘decent time’)

You can write it up somewhere public so whoever you live with can encourage you to stick to it and you’ll also remember each stage until it becomes a force of habit.

Eat more Melatonin Foods

Melatonin is the hormone that helps us to sleep at night and regulates the time that we awake from our slumber. This hormone is like our own personal alarm clock, regulating our sleep naturally. Foods high in vitamin B6 allow our bodies to make Melatonin and Serotonin.

These foods include:

  • Bananas (also contains important amino acids and magnesium) *But watch out for spiders…
  • Oats
  • Tomatoes
  • Cherries
  • Pineapple
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Brown Rice

And many more! Check this website for the full list.

You can mix some of these foods together for a healthy and delicious meal or snack (I recommend you don’t mix sweet potato with the banana and oats though…)

Go on a Digital Detox

Try and cut out computer and phone time before bed or even consider not using certain digital services (such as Facebook) for a longer period of time.

Our digital life’s can often lead us to distraction and cause unnecessary worry. It can also keep us switched on. You need to be able to be able to relax before sleep. Turning off your gadgets will also allow you to calm the constant activity in your brain. Added bonus, you don’t have to see what Julie from next door had for dinner the 4th time this week!

Don’t get your PJ’s in a twist!

If you can’t sleep, don’t toss and turn with worry for hours on end waiting for your alarm to go off. Get out of bed and do something. Read a book, draw a picture or knock on the neighbors walls because if you can’t sleep, no one else should be able to!!!

If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, insomnia can lead to anxiety surrounding sleep. You don’t want your negative perception of sleep to create the assumption that every time you try to sleep you won’t be able to, so the key here is positive reinforcement.

Think ‘I will be able to sleep’ rather than ‘I can’t sleep’.

It’s easier said than done and most people who suffer from insomnia get themselves into a mad circle they can’t seem to get out of. But there is hope!

Helpful links:

http://sleepfoundation.org

http://www.bupa.co.uk/health-information/directory/i/insomnia

G

Advice

What Society should learn from Robin William’s Life

Yesterday marked the year anniversary of Robin William’s passing.

When somebody in the public eye who is admired and loved by many passes, it’s always a desperately sad time, even more so when said person was known to be just as much a character in real life as their celebrity personas.

This was Robin Williams. I know this to be true because my Aunt shared a story not long after his passing, stating that as a youngster, a friend and herself had crossed paths with the late actor when she was still living in the USA. He was apparently very kind to them and even referred to them as his friends when his security was being over precautious.

Stories like this seemed to swamp the Internet when it was announced the actor has died at his Californian home in August 2014.

One of the sweetest stories referred to the friendship between Williams and fellow actor Christopher Reeve, who was involved in a horse riding accident in 1995. The story was about how, during Reeve’s recovery in hospital, Williams had paid him a visit dressed as an eccentric doctor with a strong Russian accent who stated he must perform a rectal examination of the actor. This was the first time since the accident that Reeve’s had laughed and realised, thanks to Williams, things were going to be okay.

Robin Williams really was the sweetest, most caring man in Hollywood. I get really emotional when I remember that such a talented and wonderful man was suffering through some of the darkest days of his life.

It was no secret that throughout William’s life he battled with addiction. This in turn had brought him to hard times and affected his mental health. Yet he had been able to beat it and had gone on to commit himself to 20 years of sobriety. But like most addictions, there is always the possibility of a person relapsing back into their old ways.

Reports stated that Williams had spent some time in a Treatment Centre before his death in order to focus on his commitment to staying sober. He was extremely proud of this, as anyone with an addiction will know how hard it is to become independent from his or her addiction.

It was stated not long after the announcement of Robin’s death that his suicide was as a result of a recent battle with severe depression, with information added at a later date that the actor has also been diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

It was very obviously the last straw for Williams. He could not take it any longer.

The thing about Robin William’s death is that he didn’t die from suicide. Yes, suicide was the direct cause on paper but what the actor really died from was an illness. Just like a terminal illness, severe depression can result in a person’s passing. Except, we as a society don’t seem to see it in the same way.

Depression isn’t a physical thing. You can’t see depression in the face of an individual the way you might see a person’s broken leg or chronic back pain.

Their pain is mental. It takes them to places that are so dark and full of despair that they can’t drag themselves out of it. It’s like falling down a muddy decline and haven’t no grip on the sides. You can’t pull yourself up and sometimes; other people can’t reach down to grab you either.

These people have often been fighting for a long time. There is no energy left in them to claw at the sides of that muddy pit anymore. They could see a little glimpse of sunshine at the top to start with, but they’ve sunk too deep and they don’t know how to wade through it.

People like Williams are so strong. Suicide is not cowardly. It’s not a sign of weakness. Suicide is often the last resort for so many who suffer from mental illness. People who haven’t experienced mental illness may not understand how dark Robin Williams mind was, how desperate he must have been to keep fighting but how tired and lost he eventually became. He felt he couldn’t carry on living his life the way it has been moulded for him by depression.

There is a lot we, as a society, should learn from Robin William’s life and passing. Although his death will never define his unimaginable colourful and beautiful life, it should open our eyes as human beings to why we need to change our perception of mental illness.

It should allow us to understand why judgement is not needed.

People with depression are in their own personal hell. Judgement is only emphasising the untrue perception they have of themselves. Those who suffer from depression need support and other people’s understanding. They need to know there are others routing for their recovery. They are NOT weak. They are lost and need those around them to shine a light back to the path they’ve lost sight off.

Williams passing should teach us that behind every smile, is a life we do not know of.

People who appear happy are usually the people most likely to be suffering from depression. They smile because our society has taught them to mask their true feelings. People like Williams gave so much happiness and light to other people lives but were unable to give it to themselves. Society needs to recognise that everybody is susceptible to depression. A smile does not necessarily reflect happiness in one’s life.

Celebrities are not exempt from mental illness either.

Many talented and successful people battle with depression and anxiety. I’ve seen a lot of judgemental comments about this subject. You don’t decide to have a mental illness. Depression doesn’t choose a person depending on their salary or lifestyle. Anyone can suffer from a mental illness at any point in his or her lives. Remember this.

It’s so sad we had to lose one of the biggest stars in Hollywood to understand how devastating mental illness can be on an individual. Let’s hope it helps to change people’s perception.