What to do with Something for Next-to-Nothing

Saturday 1465 – 30th June 2012.

As often seems to be the way I’d intended writing about something completely different this Saturday but fate has intervened.. not that I believe in fate you understand !

I was planning to help with some painting at an old school that our Drama Group has taken over to use as our base for storing props etc and rehearsals. Okay and maybe for the odd party or barbecue!

I arrived at 10 but my friend who had the key hadn’t arrived so I zipped off to the nearby shop to buy the Guardian newspaper and a drink. While I was there I thought I’d buy a £1 National Lottery ticket, something I very rarely do; probably buying about 4 or so throughout the year and as a tradition one each for myself and my 2 children for Christmas.

I’m obviously not at all familiar with lottery tickets as they change the design regularly. When I scratched the card it had a symbol on the left ( a flame) and 4 flames on the right.. with £5 written under them. The idea is one of the symbols on the right have to match with the winning symbol on the left. I thought Oh Goodie I’ve won £5 and took the ticket back to the cashier who gave me £20.  I told him he’d given me too much but he said he hadn’t. Apparently I had £5 for each of the flames on the right.

Quadruple Goodie !!

So back I went to the painting and my friend Carol was there. I thanked her for being late !! and got on with the painting, forgetting about the £20 win. Carol left after a couple of hours and I continued to paint on my own.

As I worked I thought about a dear friend of mine who is also a Social Worker and has just gone off sick with work related stress ( the only sickness she’s had for 7 years) . She’s having a tough time and those of you who have followed this blog for a while will know that I too have been off with the same thing. You can read my post about it here.  

As I was thinking about my friend and about others I know who have mental ill-health, whether to do with work , for some other reason or because their brain chemistry isn’t working right ,I thought about society’s attitude to people with mental ill-health.

Now I know I am making a sweeping statement here but I have found through my work ,and since I have been unwell, that many people still don’t know how to approach someone with mental ill-health. I have encountered people who have avoided eye contact with me and talked about any other subject rather than ask me how I am. If I had a broken leg or heart problem I am sure this would not happen. Mental illness is just another illness and shouldn’t be feared.

If you heard that someone had schizophrenia what would your reaction be? Would you think they are bound to be violent? or dangerous in some other way? Mad and bad maybe?  The facts show that worldwide approx 1% of the population, so 1 in 100, has a diagnosis of schizophrenia, doesn’t that make it likely that most of you reading this will know someone with the diagnosis but you may not be aware of it?

The upshot of this is that I decided  I wouldn’t keep the money; after all it was only £20 and money that is easy come by should be easy disposed of.  So I have donated £10 to MIND and £10 to The Samaritans.  They also get an extra 25% because I Gift Aided the money 🙂 I’m sure that both organisations will put it to good use.  Click on either of the names above for further information.

So why these 2 organisations?

MIND is a Mental Health Charity who give excellent support and advise to those with a mental illness. Their website states

“We believe everyone with a mental health problem should be able to access excellent care and services. We also believe you should be treated fairly, positively and with respect.”

It is relevant both to my friend and myself as one of their campaigns is about Mental Health in the workplace and their website says this

Right now, 1 in 6 workers is experiencing depression, anxiety or stress.

That’s the elephant in the room.

Mental health in the workplace is the elephant in the room. It exists but too often it is ignored. But we think some problems are too big to ignore.

Taking care of business: mental health at work is our campaign to help people understand and start talking about the costs of neglecting mental wellbeing in the workplace. “

I  volunteered with The Samaritans  many years ago so I know first hand the difference having a non-judgemental person to talk to makes to someone in distress so that’s why I’ve chosen this organisation.

For those of you who feel you don’t quite know what to say to someone who has mental health issues here is another excellent Samaritan’s link that will help you with that.

“Help your brother’s boat across, and your own will reach the shore”  ~Hindu Proverb

I saw this proverb on Mimo Khair’s wonderful blog which you can see here and which I cannot commend to you highly enough. I hope you will visit it..


That’s all for today Saturday girl signing off .. see you next week and who knows what I’ll have for you then..

 I also have a daily photography blog called Helen’s Photomania which you can find here I hope you’ll pop over and take a look if you haven’t already.


11 comments on “What to do with Something for Next-to-Nothing

  1. Adrian Lewis says:

    You’re absolutely right, Helen, many people simply don’t know how to react to mental illness – and an old friend of mine who has been badly hit by depression came to me to pour out his heart simply because he know that I’d been off work with stress and so I was likely to be more understanding. Adrian

  2. What a nice person you are, sharing your good fortune!

    Mental health is one of many issues that are ignored and misunderstood. One problem – like for any illness that doesn’t have an obvious physical manifestation – is that sufferers don’t look ill, so people believe they can’r be ill.

    It’s not that simple, of course; I know. Like with so many things in life, there are no easy answers. Posts like these are a start.

    • Helen Cherry says:

      I’m not THAT good honestly Tilly! I never really had the money so it was easy to give away.. and yes it is precisely because people with mental ill health often don’t look as though they are unwell.. I think people don’t ask how someone is because they’re afraid they won’t be able to cope with the answer or they’re afraid the person will become upset and they won’t know what to do.

  3. Rachael says:

    I agree and empathise. The clinical psychologist who is helping me told me that 1 in 4 adults in the UK are using antidepressants. It would certainly help those who find themselves in this situation to know that they are far from alone.

    • Helen Cherry says:

      They are far from alone Rachael..but meds can never be the answer on their own, they are just a sticking plaster. We need to look at the causes of unhappiness and why our society values all the wrong stuff…things instead of people… this is part of the problem.. fast paced greedy society..

  4. You’re leaning on an open door here. I had a very good friend who suffered a breakdown. He spiralled downward and was very hard to reach. I was staggered at how little help he recieved, professional or otherwise. It was clear he was very very ill. If it had been cancer I’m sure he would have had all the support in the world. In the end he took his own life.

    • Helen Cherry says:

      How terribly sad to read that Ziggy and you are right about the cancer thing.. The trouble is mental ill health is usually hidden as in you generally can’t tell just by looking at someone and it certainly isn’t talked about enough.
      I’m sorry for the loss of your friend.

  5. totsymae1011 says:

    You’re quite the busy bee. Did I miss an essential note about your volunteerism?

    Win enough money to send my way next go ’round.

  6. scillagrace says:

    My teenaged girls went through the mental health hospital like a revolving door for a while. What a complex issue! What we don’t know but think we know and how our society approaches this (often by throwing equally unknown medications around) is very confusing. It helps that many people who are involved in this arena are sincerely interested in helping people feel well and accepted. There’s a lot to explore here.

    • Helen Cherry says:

      Yes indeed Scilla it’s way more common than most people think… we live lives too fast I think.. we need to slow down.. of course statistics can be used to show almost anything but I believe MIND are a trustworthy organisation.

      … Uk figures from MIND

      1 in 4 people will experience mental distress during their lifetime.
      Anyone can be affected.
      Mental ill health costs the UK £77 billion annually.
      Every year in Britain:

      300 people in every 1,000 will experience mental health problems
      230 of these will visit a GP because of mental health problems
      102 of these will be diagnosed as having a mental health problem
      24 of these will be referred to a specialist psychiatric service
      six of these will become inpatients in psychiatric hospitals (over 300,000 per year)
      Over 4,000 people take their own lives.
      10 per cent of children aged five to 15 experience mental distress including:
      emotional disorders (depression, anxiety and obsessions)
      hyperactivity (inattention and over-activity)
      conduct disorders (awkward, troublesome, aggressive and antisocial behaviour).

      People with mental health problems are some of the most socially excluded, isolated, and disadvantaged people in society, facing higher levels of stigma and discrimination. Compared with people with a physical illness, people with a diagnosed mental health condition are less likely to have a job or to be re-employed after experiencing an episode of mental distress.

      The cost of mental ill health in the UK is approaching £100 billion a year with estimates predicting that by 2020 depression will be second only to heart disease as an international health problem.

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