It’s officially Mental Health Awareness Week 2021! That’s right, we’ve joined forces with the JD Foundation and all week we’re getting up close with special guests and charities to talk all things mental health. Each day we’ll have a new guest giving us their insights on everything from personal struggles to how they aim to help, tips to relieve stress and loads more!
First up it’s Emma Fairhust from the JD Foundation’s charity partner, PAPYRUS. Working nationally, PAPYRUS is dedicated to the prevention of young suicide – the biggest killer of young people – male and female under 35 in the UK. She shares some of the great work PAPYRUS is doing around mental health, as well as some of her own experiences…
What’s your mission at PAPYRUS?
Our mission at PAPYRUS is to reduce the number of young people who take their own lives by shattering the stigma around suicide and equipping young people and their communities with the skills to recognise and respond to suicidal behaviour.
How did you become involved with the charity?
I will have worked for PAPYRUS for four years in October. I became involved in the charity when I applied to become a Suicide Prevention Adviser. This was the first job advert I had seen where I just knew I was meant to work there and luckily, they hired me! Before becoming a part of PAPYRUS, I had struggled with my own mental health – specifically anxiety. This was at it’s very worst when I was 17 years old. After learning more about mental health, I wanted to do something to help those who also needed that support.
What steps are PAPYRUS taking to support mental health?
Our main objective at PAPYRUS is to reduce the number of young people who take their own life. We aim to do this through our work where we focus on 3 main objectives:
We support young people by providing confidential support and advice to those struggling with thoughts of suicide, and anyone worried about a young person through our helpline, HOPELINEUK. You can call HOPELINEUK on 0800 068 41 41, text 07860 039967 or email email@example.com.
We equip people by engaging communities and volunteers in suicide prevention projects and deliver training programmes to individuals and groups. This includes equipping local councils, healthcare professionals and school staff with suicide prevention skills.
We also aim to shape national social policy and make a significant contribution to the local and regional implementation of national suicide prevention strategies wherever we can. We press for change in many places using hard-hitting and dynamic campaigns as well as presenting evidence to those in power so that lessons can be learned and learning implemented to help save young lives.
How do you think attitudes towards Mental Health and Awareness have changed over recent years?
In recent years, attitudes towards Mental Health and Awareness have definitely changed – and seemingly for the better. When I was struggling personally, I had no understanding of mental health or what I was feeling – it wasn’t until I was much older that I looked back and understood after educating myself. Now, it seems that the majority of people understand mental health which is amazing to experience and be a part of. However, there is still a long way to go. There is still a lot of stigma surrounding suicide and suicidal ideation – the more we can talk about suicide in a safe and sensitive way, the easier it will be for those experiencing these thoughts to come forwards.
What is PAPYRUS doing for Mental Health Awareness week in 2021?
For Mental Health Awareness week in 2021, our communications team have a lot of things planned on our social media platforms. We will be completing Q&A sessions throughout that week and HOPELINEUK will be open each and every day to support those who may be struggling with suicidal ideation, or supporting someone else. Similarly, our training – which is now online given the pandemic, will also be continuing. This shows how we will continue to support, equip and influence throughout mental health awareness week and beyond.
To see what’s happening on our social media pages, you can find them here:
What advice would you give to someone struggling with their mental health?
For someone struggling with their mental health, it sounds cliché but just knowing that you are not alone is important to remember. One in four people struggle with their mental health and when you experience mental health concerns, it can often feel like a very long road that you’ll never get off. However – like in any kind of recovery – it can feel a bit like you’re going two steps forward and one step back, but it’s still important to know that you’re getting somewhere. Don’t set yourself unrealistic expectations – as much as it would be amazing, you’re not going to turn a switch and feel better suddenly. It takes time, it takes work and it takes support – but you CAN do it.
Just knowing that you are not alone is important to remember
Thinking of this year’s theme, ‘nature’ – how do you think this can play a part in improving mental health?
Nature is such a valuable thing that we often take for granted. On HOPELINEUK, we support people by keeping them safe from suicide – often developing a safety plan with callers. A part of this safety plan includes what can be done in the here and now in order to help that person keep safe, more often than not – nature is involved in this, many people choose to go for a walk or go into the garden. Sometimes, people have hobbies that may include nature. Getting out in the fresh air and being in the sunshine (when it appears) can be so refreshing and give people a chance to reflect and focus on themselves and their wellbeing.
How can young people who might want to ask for help or guidance contact you?
On HOPELINEUK we support people aged 35 and under across the UK who are struggling with thoughts of suicide, or anyone supporting anyone else with suicidal thoughts. HOPELINEUK is open from 9am to midnight every day of the year. Our contact details are listed below:
Phone: 0800 068 41 41
Text: 07860 039 967
Stay locked in to the JD blog all this week for more guests and more discussions around mental health!