Scarlett Moffatt returned to Twitter this week after a self-imposed social media ban. Scarlett Moffatt has indicated that she’s experiencing a ‘constant battle of emotions.’ Following a self-imposed social media ban, the vivacious TV personality, 27, agreed with a Twitter user who said that balancing a bubbly personality with ‘shitty mental health’ was confusing. Scarlett is believed to be going through her second break-up with ‘pathological liar’ Lee Wilkinson and deleted her Instagram for a week at the end of July saying she was ‘[honestly so done] with every aspect of social media.’ On her return this week, Scarlett wrote ‘agreed’ with two supportive kisses under a tweet that said: ‘Having shitty mental health but your personality being naturally bubbly & outgoing is theeee most confusing thing. Constant battle of emotions.’ Scarlett has previously spoke about how being in the spotlight affects her mental health. At the end of last month, she vented her frustration at Twitter users who insulted her appearance on Love Island: After Sun. She wrote: ‘I wanted and felt like I had to write that tweet to let you know at the end of the day I’m a 27 year old girl with feelings & a family who get upset also when they see vile comments about my appearance. Something needs to change with our society!!’ She also hinted that pap pictures were beginning to bring her down, warning that unflattering photos can affect people’s mental health. Before finding fame, the former Gogglebox star said that experiences of anxiety and dizzying panic attacks affected her on a daily basis. Writing in her autobiography Sofa, So Good, Scarlett confessed: ‘When you talk about it, it becomes less stressful. I don’t think anyone should feel like it’s a problem, because it’s not something you can help: that’s just how our brains work. ‘There’s such a stigma attached to anxiety, so it’s good to brush that away, nobody should feel embarrassed or alone. The more people talk about it, the more people will understand it and know how to act.’ ‘I still have bad days. What people need to understand about anxiety and panic attacks is that it isn’t necessarily the big things that can make you feel nervous, it can be little things too.’
A new sculpture from a mental health charity has been unveiled at Dundee University.
Hope, a 3ft black dog from UK mental health charity Sane, stands at the heart of the University of Dundee campus to remind staff and students about the importance of talking about mental health.
Dr Shirley Hill, head of disability services, said: “We believe Hope’s presence will help to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and encourage members of the public and the university community to seek help early.
“The university offers confidential mental health advice and support to students and staff, including through our mental health, counselling, and disability services based in the support hub.”
Hope’s coat was designed by adult nursing student Laura Campbell and the name Hope was chosen by university rector and world record-breaking cyclist Mark Beaumont.
Mark said: “University can sometimes be an uphill struggle for students. It’s important to remember you are not invincible and not alone.
“Making the most of the student services Dundee provides is key to ensuring a friendly campus, where students and staff look out for each other’s wellbeing.”
The fibreglass statue is part of the mental health charity’s successful black dog campaign.
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of Sane, said: “We are delighted that the University of Dundee is the latest Scottish university to adopt our black dog, showing a commitment to raising awareness of student mental health.
“What our campaign seems to have achieved is liberating the language of mental health so that young people can talk more openly and seek help more readily.”
I can remember the night vividly. I was playing football with a few of my friends at the local pitches. The rage that hit me as we were knocked out of the tournament was like never before. I can remember being so angry that I kicked the bags next to the goals containing our stuff, smashing a friend’s phone screen in the process. The rest of the boys were laughing as I was going ballistic and this was all over a game of football – I regret it to this day but looking back it was just what I’d needed.
I knew at this point that there was something wrong with me. For the rest of evening, I said nothing apart from apologising to my friend about his screen and offering to pay for a new one. I had never wanted to cry so much in my life but I held it together as I didn’t want to totally embarrass myself in front of my friends.
As soon as I got home, I rushed upstairs, avoiding any conversation with my family. I knew exactly the person to ring, my gran. She was the best listener anyone could have hoped for – always looking to help anybody out. I poured my heart out, told her every issue I’d ever had in the run up to this point whether it be substance abuse, entire summers spent solely in my room or the fact that my confidence with girls was at an all-time low. I didn’t particularly want to do anything or go anywhere, even pulling out of a boys’ holiday with some of my best friends.
I was spending days at school, working at McDonald’s at the weekends and not enjoying a single minute of it. Rejection from Heriot-Watt University. Rejection from IKEA looking to upgrade my part-time job made me feel like a total loser.
I’d been made Head Boy at Penicuik High School but felt like a below average student and kept saying that I’d been appointed because “the staff felt sorry for me.”
As I sat there, blubbing away, my gran told me to see a doctor. It was her that took me to my first doctor’s appointment and then counselling session. We’d had my future counsellor, obviously I didn’t know at the time, from MYPAS (Midlothian Young People’s Advice Service) speak to the school and I had previously put my name down on the sly but the doctor arranged an appointment sooner for me knowing that I was in trouble.
The counselling was great. It’s an experience that I went into with the most pessimistic approach possible. I couldn’t have seen how talking to a complete stranger who didn’t know me, my family, friends or girlfriend was in any way going to benefit me given she couldn’t put names to faces and wouldn’t know them if she bumped into them in the street. My counsellor, Angela Robb, was excellent and didn’t care about them, this was about me and what I was going through. I saw her for 12 sessions, because when I’d got to the end of my initial 10, I felt as though I wasn’t necessarily ‘there’ yet so she was able to provide me with more sessions.
Robb said: “Counselling is unique to each client and whilst there are some common factors in every therapeutic relationship, I tailor how I work, taking my lead from each person. It’s key to successful counselling to be able to form safe and trusting therapeutic relationships. I feel that I do this and my client’s outcomes and feedback suggest this is true.”
But it was not only me going through such a horrendous ordeal. Some of the statistics and facts are alarming. According to menshealth.com, 9% of men go through depression on a daily basis, more than 6 million men. On top of that, 3 million men are hit with a form of anxiety every day.
Why is this the case? I spoke to Jane Anderson, a mental health nurse at Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline.
“I have been a mental health nurse for eight years and have probably nursed hundreds of patients, some you’ll never see again and others I’ve nursed several times. As difficult as it can be some days it is also very rewarding.”
Anderson says: “We are a recovery focused ward and building a therapeutic relationship initially with patients can be challenging. However, when there is an understanding that our goals are the same – ie to get a better level of health and be discharged – working alongside a patient developing care plans to suit their individual needs and treating people with respect. I don’t expect thanks but even seeing someone smile when they have been so unwell is a fantastic feeling.”
She said there was still an unwillingness among men to admit that they have a mental health issue. “By the time they are admitted either informally of formally [sectioned under the mental health act] there is some recognition from the person that they are unwell. In the community, however, stigma is still very prevalent. The perception that males are raised to be stoic, brave and strong further enforces this belief.”
I asked her what factors could lead to compound mental health issues. “Lack of knowledge and understanding, embarrassment, feeling of failure, fear of letting others down and looking weak,” Anderson said. “This can be a generational issue, older males are less likely to be open about their mental health, younger males are more open although don’t necessarily accept it.”
Although there is more discussion of these issues in society than ever before, I began to wonder what more could be done to raise awareness. I asked Anderson if she felt that men could be reached by information during entertainment and sporting events.
She said: “I suppose the ‘problem’ is that mental health isn’t a nice happy topic so would turn people off from watching. We live in a consumer society, happiness and laughter brings viewers and readers and makes money for the big television and media companies.”
I’m a huge football fan and it amazes me when I see people literally living my dream who aren’t entirely satisfied and perhaps feel that they never will be. The cases in Scotland with David Cox of Cowdenbeath who was taunted by a rival fan, “Away and hang yourself and do it right this time,” and James Keatings (formerly of my beloved Heart of Midlothian) recently sharing his battles on Twitter despite playing for three of the country’s biggest clubs. Even a Barcelona academy graduate, Bojan Krkic, came out and said: “I had anxiety attacks but no one wants to talk about that. Football’s not interested.”
That speaks volumes to me about the prevalence of mental health problems. Krkic has graduated from one of the leading academies in world football, has played in several of Europe’s major leagues (Spain, Italy, England, Germany and the Netherlands) and has presumably amassed a healthy standard of living through an astronomical wage but still suffers.
It’s not a new problem. Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was said to have reportedly experienced severe depression and supposedly contemplated suicide, often weeping uncontrollably. A key figure in the scientific revolution, Sir Isaac Newton, was seemingly psychotic, and prone to dramatic mood swings with numerous authors suggesting he was bipolar or schizophrenic. Vincent Van Gogh, one of the most famous artists of all time, was another affected. His enthusiasm for art came along with his fast-paced painting followed by deep depression and an apparent bipolar disorder.
In more recent times, many in the entertainment industry have committed suicide due to mental health problems. Frightened Rabbit’s singer Scott Hutchison and the actor Robin Williams are all examples of people who, seemingly with the world at their feet, who have taken their own lives. It should never have to be this way.
Some may see suicide as the brave way out but the most courageous act you can take if you are suffering is to do something about it yourself and surround yourself with a loving family, supportive friends and people that ultimately want to put you right.
And, please, please, get help.
Adam Kennedy is a student journalist at Fife College
If you need help
0800 83 85 87
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men
0800 58 58 58
Papyrus – for people under 35
0800 068 41 41
Childline – for children and young people under 19
CRISIS talks to improve mental health support in the Highlands have been branded “disappointing”.
A seminar was held to help councillors understand the challenges these services are facing but it has been criticised for a lack of input from patients.
Councillor Richard Laird, who called for the event last year, said another meeting must be held so those effected can share their experiences.
The deputy opposition leader and gained unanimous support for a seminar to be held, when he raised the issue at a full Highland Council meeting in September and recounted the lack of help he received when he sought treatment for his own depression last year.
The meeting was held at the council’s headquarters in Inverness last week and although representatives from mental health support services Advocacy Highland and Highland Users Group attended, they were not invited to give a presentation.
Instead, councillors heard from NHS Highland, council staff and the police.
Councillor Laird, who represents Inverness Central, said: “To me and those support groups I have spoken to, the seminar was disappointing. “The most important voices are those belonging to the patients of mental health services but they went unheard at this seminar.
“While it was useful to hear from the council, NHS Highland and Police Scotland, I wanted councillors to also hear from the people who rely on these services.
“If more people living with poor mental health are not invited to the next meeting to share their experiences with councillors and those same agencies that attended the seminar last week then my motion will have been for nothing.”
Cllr Laird’s push for the event came just a month after a cut in the number of places at New Craigs Psychiatric Hospital in Inverness. Bed numbers were temporarily reduced from 54 to 48 in August last year due to “extreme staffing pressures” but this was made permanent in December, when health chiefs decided to give more places to people with age-related illnesses such as dementia.
During the council debate last year, Cllr Laird said people suffering mental health conditions feel they are not taken seriously and that some have been turned away for treatment despite numerous suicide attempts.
Council leader Margaret Davidson said the seminar had been a success and that another one will be held to hear from more organisations.
“This excellent seminar was arranged today because councillors acknowledged that the provision of adequate mental health services in the Highlands is of the utmost importance,” she said.
“Today was a great awareness raiser and we had outstanding presentations from NHS mental health services, child and adult mental health and the police.
“We will be following this up with a second event so that we get a clear understanding about how we can improve and plan services together with partner agencies and the voluntary sector.”
Last year a report revealed NHS Highland was falling short of target times to treat people with mental health illnesses.
Performance indicators showed 78 per cent of patients waiting for child and adolescent mental health services were treated within 18 weeks of referral, falling far short of the Scottish target of 90 per cent, although other health boards in Scotland fared only slightly better with an average of 80.7 per cent.
NHS Highland’s rate of psychological services was better, with 87 per cent of patients treated within 18 weeks of referral, compared to the Scottish average of 72.4 per cent, both missing the 90 per cent target.
Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK – 84 take their own lives every week. A new campaign, Project84, aims to raise awareness and sees sculptures placed on the top of a London tower block.
“People say the wounds heal but you still have the scars,” says Jonny Sharples, whose elder brother Simon, 36, took his own life in 2014.
“I remember when it happened. I was at home on my own watching a rerun of Match of the Day and I got a phone call from my sister.
“I was in tears. I went down to see her in Staines, where she lives, and then we saw my parents in Cornwall. It was Christmas, which made it more difficult.
“Simon adored Christmas, even in his thirties he would get up at five in the morning and wake everyone else up to open presents.
“It was difficult to be together [after his death], to look around a room and see he was absent.”
Jonny is helping to remember his brother through the Project84 campaign, set up by the charity CALM.
Eighty-four sculptures have been erected on top of London Television Centre, with each figure representing one of the men, each week on average, who ends their life.
The campaign aims to raise awareness about the prevalence and devastating impact of male suicide in the UK. And the fact that mental health issues affect people from all sections of society.
Jonny says of his brother: “He was a normal, level-headed and unremarkable in many respects. But to anyone who knew him he was a really special person. He was always smiling and making you laugh.
“He’d always give you an honest answer, would always give you a helping hand.”
Away from friends and family, though, Simon – a father of one – was suffering. A year of upheaval saw him change jobs and move out of his Preston home. In December 2014 he took his own life.
“It’s only with the benefit of hindsight you knew he wasn’t quite himself,” Jonny says.
“When he was watching football or playing golf, doing the things he loved, he was distracted. He was not quite as smiley but was still enjoying himself.
“It’s only with the knowledge that he did end up taking his own life that things fall into place. His death was maybe the missing piece of the jigsaw.”
Marcus Chapman was 33 when his best friend Nelson Pratt, from Hampshire, and also 33, took his own life.
The two met on a snowboarding course in France and, after just a week, decided to move in together.
“Nelson was very old fashioned British gent, impeccably polite, moral and well-mannered but also incredibly talented,” says Marcus. “He was very self-deprecating. He had the chance to be arrogant but chose to be the opposite.”
Nelson had a successful snowboarding career and became a coach for some of Britain’s Olympic riders.
He had a supportive and loving family, but as his friends began to settle down and have children he found himself conflicted.
“The stage of life he was at, a lot of us were settling down, getting married and having families and I think Nelson had a lot of different pressures,” says Marcus.
“Balancing his snowboarding career with jobs back in the UK. There was definitely a bit of a wrestle there.”
Nelson sought help, however, Marcus feels he was “let down”.
“Nelson went to see his GP, there was a waiting list for therapy and he was given an online course to do. Two days later he took his own life.”
The experiences of men who take their own lives vary, but those left behind are unified on how society should prevent their stories recurring.
They say stigmas and stereotypes need to be abandoned and avenues for support must be opened up.
“The myth is that someone who takes their own life is weak,” says Jonny. “I don’t think for a moment my brother was a weak person. I think he was very strong.
“We need to create a society where men are comfortable to talk about how they are feeling in the knowledge that the person they are speaking to will offer them the best help and solutions they can.”
Marcus adds: “It’s about having those very early conversations, sometimes close family members are the hardest people to talk to. That’s why things like the CALM helpline are so important.
Amy told the Kaye Adams Programme that her family had endured the “toughest eight months” since her brother’s death.
“He was struggling with his mental health but the shocking thing that we found was that he seemed fine,” she said.
“I know it sounds silly and trivial but in the last days before he died – I was the last person to see him – he was so happy.
“He had a niece and a nephew, my two children, and he was playing with them at the park, talking about plans to go to university and things.
“There was really no indication that that was the time it was going to happen. There were times we were more concerned about him, than when he did it.”
She said he had been to his GP shortly before he died and he was attending mental health services.
“The shocking thing about when it happened was that he was being treated and he was at his GP 10 days before he died, getting more anti-depressants,” she said.
Amy said he brother’s death was having a knock-on effect on the mental health of the rest of her family.
“My dad found my brother and he now obviously really struggles with that, he’s struggling with his own mental health.
“His GP’s reply to that is go to all the charities out there. He’s not even putting him on a waiting list for counselling or anything like that.
“I myself have started counselling from a local charity. I have the personality to go out there and do that. My brother wouldn’t have done that. I feel that my dad is a bit of history repeating itself.”
The family have been left alone to pick up the pieces of her brother’s suicide, she said.
“And it’s at that point where you feel your whole life is completely shattered and you don’t feel able to put one foot in front of the other, never mind help yourself to get the help that you need,” she added.
Mental health education
“So you’re just completely left – I felt anyway, through our own experience – that you’re just left to it by the police, by the GP.
“We had a family liaison officer from police who did nothing, to be honest. She said she had a list of phone numbers for us and she didn’t even give us those phone numbers.
“I just felt we were left to it as a family. I’m very lucky that I have such a supportive and fantastic family but it’s really been a struggle.”
Amy said she feels there is still a stigma surrounding mental health problems and suicide.
“I have had people saying, yeah he was depressed but why did he kill himself? Why did he go that far, why?
“They keep asking me why and I feel that’s down to not being educated about depression and about mental health, and also the stigma that surrounds it.
“The very fact that we’re saying people are choosing to die, I know it’s very complex, but a lot of people don’t choose to die. They have no choice left – it’s their only option.”
She said she feels some people think there should be some kind of “Hollywood ending” – they ask if there was a suicide note and whether there was a big thing that he was trying to get away from.
“I just tell them he was not very well and he died. He was killed by depression,” she said.
If you or someone you know has been affected by mental health problems, these organisations may be able to help.