Tag Archives: Raising awareness

My Tie Diary – Raising Awareness of Mental Health.

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My Tie Diary – Raising Awareness of Mental Health.

On the Daves of the Week radio show I co-host, I had the good fortune to interview and learn about a young gentleman called George Hunter and his lovely mum Gillian who have set up the My Tie Diary campaign to raise awareness of mental health. As this subject is close to my heart, I wanted to give George some much deserved promotion.

George is 17 years old and he has decided to promote awareness of mental health in a rather unusual, yet very inventive way. George is wearing a different tie everyday of the school year and his campaign is based around the concept that no-one should feel alone when dealing with mental health issues and that it is fine to talk about this subject without feeling ashamed.

The ties come into it in a few ways. The different ties represent that we are individuals and that not two people are alike. George also uses the ties he is sent to sell in charity shops to raise money for Mind and Young Mind and also has the plan to auction ties from celebrities to raise money for a befriending scheme for the Mary Francis Trust.

I won’t give too many more details, as I am going to gently encourage you to pop over to his webpage and look for yourself. While you are there, if you feel inspired to donate a tie or donate money to the scheme you are in luck, as you can do both of those things on the webpage. Lastly, I would ask that you help spread awareness of what George is doing and what he hopes to achieve.

The link for the webpage is below.

http://www.mytiediary.co.uk/

As mentioned at the start of the post, I interviewed George and Gillian on the show, and if you would like to hear it you can do so on Mixcloud on the link below.

The interview starts at 26.51 but if you are feeling generous, you can listen to the rest of the show to boot.

Finally, you can listen back to past shows discussing charities, mental health and more on Mixcloud by searching for Daves of the Week.

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What does ‘raising awareness’ actually mean?

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What does ‘raising awareness’ actually mean?

I have heard the phrase ‘raising awareness’ many times in the past month. I am wondering, aside from the obvious, what does it actually mean? In real terms, what happens when awareness is raised? As importantly, what happens after awareness has been raised?

Casting my mind back, I am struck by the outpouring following Robin Williams’ death and how his suicide should help raise awareness of mental health issues. I can’t recall another instance leading to such a response about raising awareness of depression. If you can think of another one then please let me know.

Let me be clear. I have nothing against Robin Williams or people who felt sad at his death. I have nothing against people wanting to say that awareness of depression should be raised. I do have a problem with what seems to be the great gaping hole after awareness has been raised. What next? What are we going to do now awareness has been raised?

So we know depression exists. What do we do next? How do we help people more? Does an awareness campaign last long enough to keep the momentum going to affect change in the long term? Or do things have a brief boost and then reset?

Raised awareness can also be affected by outside influences. Imagine you are a charity trying to promote actual facts based on research and you are confronted by a media only interested in telling one side of the story, usually the juiciest and most salacious. How are you going to get the real awareness raised? What do you do when people are thinking they know the real facts behind something when they have only been told the ones most likely to sell?

I wonder what really changed about awareness of depression after Robin Williams died? Are more people aware of depression as a concept? More people were talking about it so logic dictates that more people know about it. Or are people more aware of it as a concept but not aware of the details? I am not saying one way or the other, but I do wonder.

Did people come away with their awareness raised about how to spot the signs in someone who might be depressed, or of helplines they can phone for support, or feel more free to discuss the subject? Did people with depression feel less isolated? I am hoping that people do take knowledge away with them. Or you can let me know. I am aware that I don’t know what others learnt, so feel free to add your thoughts.

How long do we look at something when awareness is being raised? How long do we keep looking at it before we move on? If we look for a finite period of time before something else comes along, how long is the awareness raised for? Does it have a shelf life? What happens after this?

One thing has niggled me for a while. It was a comment I read on Facebook and I am sure it was well meant. You can be the judge. The comment was ‘Do something for people with depression. Say a prayer for them today’ or pretty close to that. Am I a terrible person for getting annoyed by this? Perhaps my own awareness is lacking. I was not aware that being depressed was something that could be prayed away.

In the end I am curious why I am so bothered about it. Raising awareness should be an obvious thing for me to support. I do support it. I also get angry that there is still a stigma attached to mental health issues and that people suffer for longer than they need to as a result. Awareness is being raised and that is a good thing. Things are getting better. Or I like to think so. Can they get better more quickly? I hope so.

I think what really brought it home was learning that it takes an average of thirteen years for an ex-military service person suffering from PTSD to seek support. Imagine the how high the wait time for some is to make the average thirteen years? This breaks my heart. Which is why people are trying to raise awareness of it and other issues like it. I hope the awareness is and stays raised.