Sunshine and Suicide – Welcome to Mental Health Awareness Week 2018

image

This graph is from the Dutch paper published in 2012 ‘Seasonality of Suicidal Behavior’ by Jong-Min Woo, Olaoluwa Okusaga and Teodor T. Postolache.

Their conclusion section starts with:

“Seasonal variation of suicide rates are one of the most consistent themes from environment-suicide research, when compared to demographic factors, environmental factors and suicide methods.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3315262/

The trouble with common sense and general knowledge is that most of the time this combination gives us completely invalid results.  Be honest, didn’t you think most suicides occurred in the winter months and probably around Christmas.  And now I’ve just read that Mondays are no longer the preferred days for suicide attempts, it Wednesdays.

Having worked in higher education, Wednesday was always the best day because Wednesday afternoons, was sports or film-society time.

Twenty or so years ago, I was working in a higher education establishment in the centre of London.  I was a great job, I ran induction sessions for first year students where we talked openly about what they could expect within the faculty and department; that perhaps their family and friends may feel threatened by changes in the student’s thinking, and how to address these problems.  Then someone I worked with said to me: “You know, I keep coming across students that seem to be saying to me, they’ve been advised that going to university is a sort of half-way house on the recovery from a bout of mental illness and the world of work.”

At that time the latest buzz phrase was ‘Pastoral Care’, but I don’t remember any of us getting any particular training on how to support students with these problems.   What we did have was a really good Student’s Services Unit, run by an excellent woman called Ann Heyno.

Yesterday I came across

Thorley C (2017) Not By Degrees: Improving student mental health in the UK’s Universities, IPPR. http://www.ippr.org/research/publications/not-by-degrees

The first four statements of the summary on page 3 are:

“Levels of mental illness, mental distress and low wellbeing among students in higher education in the UK are increasing and are high relative to other sections of the population.”

“Around three-quarters of adults with a mental illness, first experience symptoms before the age of 25.  With widening access to higher-education the student population is more closely reflecting the UK’s wider socioeconomic and demographic makeup and a growing proportion of students would appear to be affected by mental illness.  Over the past 10 years there has been a fivefold increase in the number of students who disclose a mental health condition to their institution.”

And the first of the ‘Key Findings’ is:

“Today’s generation of young adults (aged 16-24) are more likely to experience mental illness than previous generations of young adults.  This is driven primarily by significant growth in the proportion of young women who experience a mental health condition.”

This document is a free download, and I think is a well presented and easy to read.

For those of us well past our ‘Uni.’ days it’s an excellent start in making us all more aware and accurately informed about what student life really is for many of our young people.

 

STRESS is this year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week.

But while stress is not a mental health problem itself, if you feel overwhelmed for long periods, then your physical and mental health will be compromised.

However, in the report – STRESS: Are We Coping? – there does seem to be some good news for the over 70s, who although possibly having to cope with long-term illness, disability, mobility issues or the loss of friends and family; when surveyed, report the least amount of stress compared to younger age groups

This is another free download that’s worth reading

image

and is at https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

Leave a Comment