Mental Health – do we really look after it?

Just like physical health, your mental health needs a bit of TLC.  There’s a big difference and many suffer with mental illnesses’s!!  I’m fortunate I work for a fabulous employer who has a brilliant bunch of Mental Health Wellbeing Champions, we’ve all received amazing training and supported by 2 fabulous co-ordinators Alex and Alison.  I’ve been very lucky and built resilience and coping mechanisms from a very young age, can’t say the same for my siblings.  Having 2 brothers with schizophrenia makes me passionate to make a difference and understand…  An event this week at work has triggered a raft of emotions….  my workplace arranged a wellbeing event for over 400 depot workers, I attended alongside 2 Mental Wellbeing Champions and didn’t know what to expect.  The key speaker was Danny Sculthorpe from

I may live in a Rugby Town but I’m a football girl at heart born in Old Trafford so wasn’t aware of Danny’s story was looking for forward to this.  He ran 3 sessions and you could hear a pin drop, it took around 4 minites before I started thinking about my brother and the struggles he endured.  The eye taps had started but I remained composed and was moved by by his talk.  WOW is all I can say, it really made a difference to people sat in the room and a stroke of genius linking the 2!!!

Why I really care about Mental Wellbeing….. My brother Andrew died 5th December 2005, I had a 10 week old baby and 1 year old.  He was an all round sports mad person running for Manchester clubs and touted for his beloved Manchester City (how I ended up with 3 brothers supporting City, United and Leeds) made an interesting Saturday!!!  He didn’t suffer from a mental illness until his late 20’s where he was diagnosed with Chrones Disease.  This was the downward turn for him.  He was so poorly, he lost his job.  The struggle to accept the physical side of his illness and impact on his mental health led to self medicating with alcohol in excess.  He was eventually diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia.  A continuing journey for 8 years saws bouts of torture for the entire family (how he felt we’ll never know) but we persevered trying to help.  This eventually led to an imprisonment but thankfully we  got him moved to mental health unit in local NHS hospital.  He never came home his demons were under control and an episode of Sleep Apnoea was his final calling.  From a fit healthy young man, sport mad, my drunking partner and best friend, we didn’t recognise him (he wouldn’t talk to anyone)…. he was about 12 stone heavier with steroids for his chrones which was an issue for the apnoea, our hearts were broken (still are).  When we said goodbye, I made a promise to never judge anyone and help where I can – I’m no Mother Teresa but feel very fortunate I can help others and do my bit where I can.  My husband has given up when I say…. “I’m just supporting x y and z it’s good for the soul, some people aren’t as fortunate as me!! Brother No 2 never got over his brothers death and had a nervous breakdown, he’s given up on day to day life and is homeless, we never know if we’ll get al call to say he’s died as never hear from him.  He turned up for our step-dads funeral then went again, mental illness tears families apart but how must the person who is living this feel – please talk!!

Danny Scultthorp’s is one of many who’ve led the way to say it’s ok not to be ok and talk to someone.  Fortunately sport has changed from the 70’s and 80’s (showing my age now)… This gives them a platform to reach out to many people which is AMAZING….. Well done.  He’s brought out an autobiography and I dithered if suitable for my 12 and 13 year old to read as always try to get them to understand.  The day finished with amazing feedback and hopefully planted the seed to say when they’re not ok ??

Im crying again now but tears of joy too as will always have my big brother to thank for looking after me when I was suffering with the ridicule of wearing swimming costumes in the winter having psoriasis treatment, toughening me up showing me how to defend myself, helping me to undersnd mental health but most of all making me laugh for years, memories last forever… Be happy and keep taking Lots of Love ?

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