Mental Health Awareness week
This years' Mental Health Awareness week focuses on relationships, and how healthy and supportive relationships protect and sustain our mental health.
If you suffer an injury – especially head injuries, this can cause mental health problems. If the brain is damaged physically then this can affect the person’s character mood and subsequent relationships. There are cases where people have suffered a complete personality change.
Even where the injury is not a head injury, serious injuries can have a huge effect on a person’s mental health. Not being able to work, exercise – play a sport that you loved and enjoyed – and probably excelled at can lead to people feeling ostracised, useless and unvalued. Men in particular who are unable to work as a result of a serious injury suffer depression and often turn to drink as feelings of inadequacies set in. Not being able to provide for, support and care for a family, meet the mortgage, pay the bills and interact within a normal family life can be deeply distressing and upsetting.
At Simpson Millar where we have clients who have suffered psychological injuries as a result of an accident. Sometimes the symptoms are as a direct result of the accident such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD can occur where someone has witnessed a horrific or life threatening disorder, or where the person themselves has experienced a serious accident, assault or abuse.
The symptoms of PTSD can be quite severe with flashbacks, sleep disturbance, mood changes, avoiding certain situations or activities or social groups. Many people trying to escape the effects of PTSD will turn to drink, drugs and generally isolate themselves from friends, family and society generally.
Even if someone does not suffer the more severe symptoms of PTSD they can suffer other psychological disorders such as situational anxiety disorder (fear of travelling in car following a road traffic accident) panic disorders (feelings of panic or severe anxiety when faced in particular situations or circumstances) and general depression.
As a friend or family member what can we do to help?
Most people are overcome with feeling of hopelessness and helplessness. Some times all they want to do is talk about the way they feel. Even though it may seem that they are going over the same thing over and over again – it is good to let them talk and express themselves. However you should encourage them to seek medical help and treatment – even if they feel that there is “no point” or “it wouldn’t make any difference”. In respect of Counselling and other psychological help people are loathed to seek this sort of help – being afraid of the stigma attached. You can encourage and re-assure them that mental help is just as important and acceptable as physical help.
It is easy to “avoid” a person with mental health problems. Most people feel that they are not qualified to know what to say or what to do. You don’t have to “do” anything. All you need to do is listen and re-assure. Continue to include them in activities and outings. Don’t automatically assume that they “won’t want to” come even though they may time and time again decline invitations. Many clients suffering with depression say “oh, friends have stopped asking me now. They got fed up”.
Even if they continually say no, or stop answering calls, or texts – you must continue. Send them a text – or a card – or even an old fashioned letter works wonders.
If you are a close friend or family then be on the look out to see if anything in particular “triggers” depressive episodes. Be quick to steer them away and if necessary occupy them with some other task or activity.
Finally look after yourself. It is easy especially when caring for a close friend or loved one to get “dragged down”. If you feel that you are unable to cope yourself then you should talk to your GP or other someone else about getting health for yourself.
At Simpson Millar we have many clients who suffer with psychological injuries – whether that be as a result of a brain injury, PTSD, or depressive symptoms following a long standing injury that has affected their day to day life. We seek to help our client’s by seeking early treatment (counselling advice and assistance and in more severe cases medication where necessary). We fund the cost of this treatment by obtaining payment from the insurers involved so that the Claimant is not financially burdened with having to foot the cost of lengthy and expensive treatment.