Mental Health Awareness Course

4th February 2011

 The Year 13 Psychology students had the opportunity to attend an Introduction to Mental Health course run by the charity Jersey FOCUS.

The talk conducted by Mr Phillip Le Clare, Mr. Stephen McCrimmon and Mrs Patricia Winchester gave the students a basic insight into the range and scope of mental illness. It looked at identifying and debunking common myths and made the students aware of the high prevalence of mental illness in the community (1 in 4 are likely to suffer an episode of mental illness at some point within their lives).

During the talk we discussed the stickiness of labelling someone mentally ill and watched a revealing video on the damaging effects that such labels have on an individual’s life, even though they are being treated effectively for their illness.

One of the key aims of the course was to raise awareness of the prejudices that still exist in society and questioned why society still holds these prejudices when prevalence is so high.

The course also identified the 4 major areas of mental illness, these are: ~

1. Depression
2. Bipolar Illness
3. Personality Disorder
4. Schizophrenia

The talk briefly introduced the students to the different types of therapies that exist for these illnesses ranging form Cognitive Behavioural Therapy through to Pharmacological interventions and combined treatments.

The students were also introduced to the rights of an individual with Mental Health in terms of support that they may need in respect of their assessment or with the law. This was conducted by Mrs Patricia Winchester one of only two qualified Mental Health advocates with in the world.

Mrs Winchester gave us a fascinating insight into the needs and previsions available for an individual who may find themselves in this predicament because they fall ill. She highlighted that if an individual is off work for more than a year then they have only a 10% chance of returning to work and that many unscrupulous employers are trying to use Mental illness as a method of removing individual employers form the workplace due to their illness. However she made us aware that several companies had come unstuck in their activities due to the fact that they are breaking the Human Rights of an individual, based on the European Human right law of which Jersey is a signatory.

 Mr. Stephen McCrimmon discussed the support for those who are caring for people with Mental Health Issues and the effect that an illness can have on a family. He talked about the support that is available on the Island including one to one, group support and confidential telephone hotlines that are currently provided on the Island.

In all the talk was a very informative introduction to looking at Mental Health from many different perspectives and this acts as an excellent foundation for the students to begin their study of the Health Psychology unit of A2 Psychology.