Myths and Facts About Mental Health


Living in low support housing for those with various mental health issues and dealing with my own issues I know a lot of the myths surrounding mental health are wrong.  This is my view on why some of those myths are wrong.

Myth: Only certain types of people experience mental health issues.

Fact: Anyone can experience them.  Although it is true that certain events or lifestyles can trigger mental health issues, for me this is not the case.  I come from a loving, stable family, and did not grow up with violence around me or major addiction issues in the family.  It could be that my problems are genetic, I have no idea.  I have met people from all kinds of backgrounds with mental health issues.

Myth: Mental Illness is not as bad as a physical one.

Fact: It can be just as bad as a physical illness, hence suicide and self-harm in some cases.  Mental health problems can sometimes lead to physical problems.  Such as eating disorders, not looking after themselves properly and smoking.

‘People with depression are twice as likely to smoke as other people. People with schizophrenia are three times as likely to smoke as other people.’ (Mental Health Foundation).

Myth: You can tell someone has a mental illness just by looking at them.

Fact: Often you will have no idea if someone has mental health issues or not.  People you work with, friends and even family may have issues you do not know about.  It is hard to know what is going on inside someone’s head.  However just because you cannot see the problem does not make it any less real for the person experiencing it.

Myth: People with mental health issues can snap out of it if they try hard enough.

Fact: If it was only that simple!  It is not being lazy or weak and it requires help to get better when really mentally ill.

Myth: People with mental health issues are usually violent and unpredictable.

Fact: According to Time to Change, a campaign to end mental health discrimination, more than one-third of the public believe that people with mental health problems are more likely to be violent.

‘Violent crime statistics tell a different story, though. One survey suggested that only 1% of victims of violent crime believed that the incident occurred because the offender had a mental illness.’ (BBC Future).

In fact according to various surveys mentally ill people are more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators.

Myth: Mentally ill people need to be kept in hospital.

Fact: With treatment and support most mentally ill people live independent lives in the community.  Although I have been to hospital appointments for mental health help, I have never been hospitalised overnight for it.  Some people may need a stay in hospital, but this is much rarer than it used to be and often for very short periods of time.  There is no need for the confinement and isolation that was commonly used in the past.

Myth: Men with depression or anxiety are weak, lack masculinity and asking for help is an admission of defeat.

Fact: Asking for help makes you stronger, not weaker, it shows you are gaining strength and want to beat it, rather than let the anxiety win.  A strong man is honest with himself and others about it.

‘Anxiety has nothing to do with courage or character. Nothing at all.’ (The Mighty).

Myth: Children do not experience metal health problems.

Fact: Even very young children can show signs of mental health concerns.  I experienced mental health issues as a child.  Although not diagnosed till I was about twelve, I definitely showed signs of mental health issues way before that.  Sadly less than twenty percent of children and adolescents receive the help they need.

Myth: All young people go through ups and downs as party of puberty, it is nothing.

Fact: One in ten young people experience mental health issues.  As a teenager some people would say to me ‘most teenagers get angry from time to time’, but trust me I was more than your average teenage angry.  I think my problems may have been made worse by puberty at times, but I already had mental health issues before puberty hit, so it was clearly not just that.

Myth: A mental illness is the same as being learning disabled.

Fact: A mental illness has nothing to do with how smart someone is.  Steven Fry is known for being very smart, and he has bipolar disorder, which can cause huge mood swings.

I believe ignorance and fear keep mental health stigmatised.  If people understood what mental health really is and how it affects people it would be easier for some people to admit to having problems and to get help.  Those who can need to speak out about it so others can feel that it is not something to hide and be ashamed of.



Butterfly Dawlish Community Art and Craft Centre C.I.C

Following on from my last post about volunteering, this post will focus on one of the organisations I volunteer with. I have chosen to write about this particular organisation as I am very passionate about what they do and think they deserve recognition for their hard work.
Butterfly Dawlish Community Art and Craft Centre C.I.C  inside-the-shop1
At first glance Butterfly may look like a normal craft shop, selling handmade items and craft supplies, but it is much more than that. It is a not for profit organisation supporting local good causes and groups of people through a retail business. It is run as a C.I.C, which is a Community Interest Company. A C.I.C is designed for companies run as a social enterprise, with the primary focus of benefiting the local community. Meaning that it is not run by shareholders or owners out to make personal profit, but instead uses any money it makes to help others. The idea of Butterfly is that it is run by Dawlish, for Dawlish. With volunteers and crafters helping to run things.
Butterfly sell local crafts handmade by the people of Dawlish. They rent out shelf space to crafters and artists at extremely reasonable prices, to encourage locals to share their work and become part of Butterfly. The range of crafts they have on sale are very diverse. This includes:
• Cards
• Knitted clothing and toys
• Jewellery
• Clay Ornaments
• Postcards
• Decorations for the home
• Paintings
• Bags and Purses
• Preserves and Sauces
• Candles and Soap
• Wooden Gifts
They also have a few people who sell crafts in aid of charities such as Help for Heroes and local clubs such as the Dawlish Local History Group. The shop also sells art and craft materials to raise money for Butterfly and enable local crafters to get creative. This includes:
• Wool and Knitting supplies
• Sewing supplies such as needles, thread, zips, buttons, etc.
• Second hand fabric and bags of rag
• Things for card making such as blank cards, stickers, card toppers, back ground papers and stamps
• Jewellery making bits
• Art supplies such as paint, brushes, art pencils, etc.
• Books to inspire and instruct
Butterfly run regular one off workshops to teach crafts such as jewellery making, mosaicking, dress making and much more. They also have weekly groups such as In Stitches where anyone making something including a needle and thread or wool can join in, to help each other and socialise as they create. They also help more specific groups of people using art and craft as therapy and as a way to bring people together, like Craft for Carers. They also plan to start a regular home educated children’s group and other classes.
Butterfly was set up just over a year ago in July 2014. In that time they have already achieved things for the local community. They have helped three local residents set up a sewing business. They raised £100 for the Royal British Legion by selling poppy items made by the crafters. They have organised craft therapy for local care homes thanks to a grant of £500.
I have only been volunteering at Butterfly since June, but I have already grown to love the place and its people. I help with various things in the shop such as operating the till and serving customers, tidying and sorting stock, making cups of tea and coffee and anything else that they need me to do. I also attend the recent AGM and wrote a short press release about it for the local newspaper. I also am starting to get more involved online with the Facebook page and Website.
The other thing I love about the shop is that I am a crafter myself. I find working in the shop very inspirational and get lots of ideas of things to make. At the moment I do not sell my crafts, but make them for friends and family for special occasions. I do however hope that one day I can make enough of my crafts to have my own shelf space at Butterfly and to start selling my work.
I joined Butterfly about a month after I moved to Dawlish and everyone there has made me feel very welcome. It has helped me to make friends in the town and feel like part of a community right on my doorstep. I would like to thank everyone at Butterfly for being so supportive and kind.
If you would like to find out more about Butterfly Dawlish Community Art and Craft Centre C.I.C then check out the link to their website or Facebook page. The shop itself is located at 17 Queen Street, Dawlish, Devon. They always welcome donations of unwanted craft supplies to sell or use in store.
Try finding a C.I.C or social enterprise in your area to join and start benefiting local people, who in turn may just benefit you.

Butterfly Website

Butterfly Facebook page


Butterfly running a stall at Dawlish carnival


Getting That Good Feeling: Why I volunteer

I have been a volunteer on and off for various causes since I was about sixteen. I love the good feeling volunteering gives me and knowing that I managed to do my part in some small way for society. I have spent time helping my local youth club, fund-raising for my local hospital, working in charity shops both serving customers and sorting stock in the back room, as a steward for a regional theatre, helping with administration for my local children’s centre and taking part in one off fund-raising events.
Reasons Why I Volunteer
• Enhance my CV: One of the reasons I first started volunteering as a teenager was to have something to put on my CV as work experience. Even now when I have paid work experience, volunteer work means my CV stays up to date, with current experience in the work place. It shows how keen I am to work right now. It also makes me look like a nice person that people would want to work with.

• Get a Job Reference: A lot of job applications ask for a work place reference, which is hard to give when you have never worked before. However after volunteering I was able to use my manager as a reference.

• Gain Confidence: Volunteering has given me the confidence to apply for more kinds of jobs. It has helped me feel more confident in interviews and comfortable in a work environment. It has also given me self confidence in my abilities proving to myself and others that I can work and actually do a good job despite having various disability issues.

• Skills: I have learnt a lot of new skills thanks to volunteering. Also it helps me keep skills I have developed in the work place up-to-date.

• Help with Job Interviews: Volunteer work helps give me real work place experiences to talk about in job interviews.

• Gets Me Out/ Pass the Time: Unemployment can be very boring and tedious at times. Volunteering gives me a reason to get out of bed and leave the house some days. It also helps fill the time in a more interesting way than sitting around at home often does.

• Be Part of my Local Community: Volunteering makes me feel a part of something, like I am joining in with society and being of use to my local community. It helps make me feel less isolated.

• Make Friends: I get to meet new people and make friends who live locally.

• Pride in Myself: As someone on benefits without paying work, I have been accused of sponging off society and being lazy. At least with volunteer work I can say I do something with my life and can prove I am not just being lazy. Also it helps me feel like I sort of ‘earn’ my benefits in some small way and that I have dignity.

• Helping Others: Most importantly when I volunteer I like to be helping a charity or cause that I truly believe in. It is no good volunteering my time for a cause I do not care about as I will do the work less well and not enjoy myself so much. I often like to help with smaller local causes as I can see the effect my work has directly on my local community.
There are many types of jobs you can do as a volunteer, so no matter what your skills or interests there is likely to be a job out there for you. Volunteer roles can include:
• Fund-raising: Either as a one off event such as being sponsored to do something, or in a charity shop.
• Supporting People/ Befriending: One on one support for vulnerable people such as the elderly or special needs. Sometimes this can include helping people to eat meals when in hospital or to have someone to go out to places with. It can be as simple as just checking up on someone and being there so they are less lonely.
• Administration Support: Helping a charity with office based jobs.
• Teaching: Sharing your skills with others either one on one or a group.
• Supporting Events: Helping at community events or fund-raising events with things like first aid, car park attendance, serving drinks, or setting up stalls.
• Driving: Helping people to go places such as hospital transport and community transport. Collecting and delivering furniture for charity shops.
• Handy Person/ Gardening: Helping elderly or disabled people with basic DIY tasks such as small repairs, safety measures like fitting rails and smoke alarms and security measures. Sometimes help with gardening maybe required such as mowing the lawn or cutting back hedges.
• Giving Advice: Either face to face or by telephone for charities such as Citizens Advice Bureau, Age UK or Sure Start Children’s Centres.
I would highly recommend volunteering to anyone. You can take it up as a regular thing like I do helping two charities one afternoon a week each or if you do andot have as much time to spare you could take part in a one off event. I guarantee that you will gain from doing it in some way.

Links to find a local volunteer job near you or learn more about volunteering:

Do-it Helps link you to volunteer jobs using a simple online form

Community and Voluntary Services Can offer you advice on volunteering and link you to local places looking for people to help.  They can do this on the phone or face to face in a volunteer centre and some Volunteer Centres also have online links. Another site to link you to volunteer jobs, also has advice pages about volunteering