Mental Health Awareness Week!

How Are You Coping?!

Mental health conditions: a growing worldwide public health concern prevalent around the world and not just the UK. 

It is estimated that 1 in 4 people have experienced some common mental health problems in the UK, with an economic cost in England estimated at £105 billion each year.

Mental Health Conditions can range from mild to severe conditions such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar, and are one of the main causes of ill-health and disease burdening the UK and the world at large and a major contributor to suicide and ischemic heart conditions. 

Half of the mental ill-health starts by age 15 and 75% develops by age 18, one in eight children who have been sexually abused come to the attention of statutory agencies and an estimated 20% of young people with mental ill-health wait more than six months to receive care from a specialist.

For many people having mental health problems can be extremely frightening, confusing or upsetting. At times, you may feel overwhelmed or a sense of losing your mind or hopelessness that is hard to explain to friends, colleagues, or loved one’s due to your lack of understanding of what is happening to you or by the past stigma associated with the mental health.

This week is Mental Health Awareness and so, I would like to share my story with you. My name is Sherry Diaz-Thompson and I am the founder, owner and lead trainer at Safe Hearts Training.

I was born on the twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago to a teenage mum and is the eldest of seven children. I am a Wife, Mother, Entrepreneur, and Founder of Safe Hearts Training.

At just nineteen years old I was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), an inherited condition affecting the red blood cells and various organs in the body – resulting in severe pain, chronic fatigue and frequent trips to the hospital (the latest being August this year). Without treatment, people with SCD can die in childhood but even with treatment, it can still cause serious or life-threatening problems.

In September 2007, I met the most amazing man and fell completely in love on the island of Grenada, then in April 2008, we got married – one of the happiest days of my life!

I felt finally, my life was complete and I was embarking on the next stage of my life – I was 23 years old and relocating to the United Kingdom to start married life. I was filled with excitement, though with a sense of loss leaving family, friends, and colleagues but also calm, peace and optimism knowing my husband will be my side.

Upon arriving in the UK, I had lots of ambitious, dreams and ideas of establishing myself and my family but that was soon dashed by tragedy.

Due to my underlying health condition Sickle Cell Anaemia, I was hospitalised almost every month and spent most of 4 years in and out of hospital drugged up on medication, having full monthly Red Blood Cell exchanges for almost two years. I have had several surgeries due to complications of my illness and medications and as a result, I suffered severely from stress, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and the devastation of multiple miscarriages.

During this time, I will often isolate myself, retreat from socialising and withdraw from everything and everyone – this was my way of coping and sometimes still is. In 2010, for the first time I said to my doctor I can’t cope, I don’t want to be here and that I felt completely hopeless; it was the first time in two years I was able to admit out loud the pain I was feeling inside and I remember completely breaking down and bursting into streams of tears in front of my doctor stating to him I don’t know WHY I FEEL LIKE THIS. I was covered in a blanket of darkness and I had no idea WHY?

Because of this conservation with my doctor – who was extremely supportive and understanding, I was able to access treatment, counselling and coping therapies which was my roadmap to recovery. The journey to having good Mental Health was a long and hard recovery process to where I am today with the odd relapse from time to time which I am now able to deal with – recognising my triggers and implementing my coping techniques.

Like me, most people who are experiencing a mental health problem often don’t seek help or talk about it out of fear of being judged, labelled as weak or worse still people’s attitude and feelings towards you may suddenly change. 

From my experience not talking about it meant I suffered in silence and did not receive the help and treatment needed to unearth the underlying cause. The fact is Mental Health problems can happen to anyone, from all walks of life and at various stages in their life.

In today’s climate with the likes of social media, reality TV shows, and society’s unrealistic expectations often perpetuate fear, stress and worry within us which may result in someone developing a mental health condition.

So, why I am sharing my story with strangers, well:

•    I would like any person who is suffering in silence to know they don’t have to

•    I would like that person who feels it’s the end of the road know that it doesn’t have to be

•    I would like those who are struggling to cope know they are not alone and that help is available

•    I would like to break the silence, fear, and stigma surrounding mental health

•    I would like to see more people talking about how they feel so others can feel empowered and lives would be saved

Do you think you may have a mental health problem?

What are the signs and symptoms?

•    Are you feeling depressed?

•    Are you continually worrying and stressing?

•    Are you feeling down a lot of the time?

•    Are you feeling anxious, panicky and scared?

•    Are you feeling something bad is going to happen?

•    Are you feeling hopeless?

•    Are you feeling angry or upset?

•    Do you have panic attacks?

•    Do you have suicidal thoughts?

How to get help?

•    Friends, family, carers, and neighbour’s –…

•    Speak to your doctor –…

•    A trained therapist –…

•    Charity and third-party sector organisations –…

•    Workplace support –…

•    Student services –

•    Peer support –

•    To learn more about Mental Health, start a FREE course trial –

•    Alternatively – Get involved by Donating to the Mind Charity –

Thank you for reading and please pass it along and help us save lives with confidence! 

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