The Mental Health Problems We Need To Destigmatise – Bath Mind

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Last week I met with staff at one of three Bath Mind care homes (all situated in Bath and Wiltshire) for residents with mental health problems. Situated on Lower Oldfield Park, the home provides 24-hour care for people with long term mental illnesses.

Whilst there aren’t any time restrictions from said moving in date, the lack of funding for the services means it’s difficult to find suitable housing for residents in the home once they are ready to move out.

A bank Support Worker for the home and Time To Change Campaigner, Denise Martin, described the home as “Restbite. It’s a safe place to be. They can be independent, but they also know they’ve got people to go to for support.” The staff focus on providing long-term recovery with tailored support available for the residents.

The home enables residents to be who they are. The location means that doctors, shops, pubs and bus stops are within walking distance. Local communities such as the local cafe and co-op who know the residents means people who might otherwise be discriminated, have safe places to go.

Whilst we’ve come a long way with regards to discussing and destigmatising certain mental health problems e.g anxiety and depression, a lot of work needs to be done regarding long-term illnesses e.g schizophrenia. It seems we still hold on to false beliefs regarding more extreme mental health problems, due to misinformation.

We stigmatise because we are misinformed. Statistics show that people with schizophrenia are more likely to be hurt than to harm anybody. “People lash out because they’re misunderstood”, Dee tells me. “You need support. Human beings are social beings. Them having support shouldn’t be stigmatised.”

Despite many people being against medication for several reasons, it can help to manage symptoms of mental health problems such as paranoid schizophrenia.

The Housing Manager, Fiona Stradling, describes the common issue found when somebody is having a psychotic episode – “it’s a different reality to somebody who isn’t. Your natural tendency is to correct them but actually it diminishes their reality. If you push your own reality on to them, it’s invalidating what’s real to them.”

The staff at the home stress the importance of having open dialogue. It’s about listening to somebody’s reality and not telling them they’re wrong. The illness differs in terms of how it can manifest or effect a person despite it being the same illness. It’s very much a person-centred approach.

Senior Support Worker, Emma Johnson, tells me how working at the home has helped her understand long-term mental health problems better “I’m completely anti-stigma since working here. What people presume, isn’t what it seems at all.”

Every single mental health problem deserves to be destigmatised and discussed with no hesitation. We are all human beings trying to get by the best we can after all.

Ciao for now x

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