Last Thursday was Mental Health Awareness Day. Previously a taboo subject, we're now as keen as a puppy with two wagging tails and a degree in eagerness from the University of Oxford to encourage people to talk about these difficulties. But how does this fit in with our current trailblazing quest for a carbon neutral OSMP, I hear you say? Well, reports of 'climate anxiety' are increasing, and we need our patients and staff to stay healthy and resilient in order to cope with whatever the future throws at us.
Struggling on your own = bad. Seeking help early = good. Imagine how things could have turned out for Professor Snape if he'd had the chance to attend an anger management group, or if Homer Simpson's best pal Barney Gumble had sought help with his drinking problem, or if an Age UK befriender had visited Dickens' Miss Havisham to help with her depression-induced reclusiveness? The often 'invisible' symptoms of anxiety and low mood may be completely disabling for some people, preventing them from accessing the help that is available. We need to teach our youngsters that, just as A. A. Milne's delightful animal characters did, people can live together in friendship and harmony despite their differences and difficulties.
York has a wealth of organisations and activities to help, support, counsel, and lift the spirits of those in need. Earlier this week I met a rep from Kooth, a free online counselling service. It's been really well reviewed and a lifeline for many. York IAPT are also running 'Wellbeing Groups', and the waiting time is only 3 weeks (dances a micro-jig in glee). Have a look at our Social Prescribing post (there's a Poldark theme - if that helps swing it for you) for more organisations. Or just ask one of our friendly GPs. We don't bite. We're basically human Care Bears (minus the saccharin names) spending our consultations wrapping people in imaginary fairtrade cotton wool and sprinkling fairy dust. Pillars of our community outside work too, like hand-delivering prescriptions on the way home, picking up stray plastic in the street (angry face emoji), and I frequently tell people off (nicely, ahem) for not wearing bike helmets. Look, we're committed but also realistic; we see what an immense struggle it is for many people to even set foot in the Surgery let alone subject themselves to opening of psychological wounds, sharing personal struggles, and exploring treatment options that may initially seem like, well, searching for a lighthouse in a storm.
If you saw Macbeth at the wonderful Rose theatre last summer you may have heard Shakespeare's "Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break".
In other words, it's good to talk!