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Dr. Michelle Wright - HealthFirst

MichelleWRIGHThealthfirstDr Michelle Wright is a British-trained General Practitioner and Director of HealthFirst, providing physical First Aid training and Mental Health First Aid training, as well as Health Education, throughout Switzerland (www.healthfirst.ch). She also has a regular radio show about health on World Radio Switzerland. Believing that prevention is better than cure and that we should be treating the root cause of illness, Dr Michelle is also a Lifestyle Medicine enthusiast.

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By Dr Mecky McNeil, HealthFirst

November is probably the most challenging month of the year. The turning back of the clocks, and with it the shorter days, signifies winter is around the corner. This year, the days feel even darker than usual, as we are facing the greatest health crisis of a lifetime. But alongside Covid, we are also experiencing a mental health pandemic. More than 1 billion people globally are suffering with mental illness. This is being further impacted by isolation following quarantine and the need to socially distance and wear masks to reduce the risk of infection.

Every November since 2003, Mo Bros across the world have been growing moustaches and setting themselves challenges to raise awareness of men’s health issues.

This year alongside raising awareness of prostate and testicular cancer, they are addressing men’s mental health and suicide. Their target is to reduce premature death in men by 25% by 2030.

One man dies every minute from suicide across the world. In England 1 in every 8 men suffer from a mental illness including anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (1), and men are 3 times more likely than women to have an alcohol use disorder (2). These numbers are the tip of the iceberg as they only represent the cases reported and diagnosed.

Gender stereotypes and society’s expectations mean that many men do not feel able to speak out about how they are feeling, leading them to look for other ways to cope. Self-medicating with alcohol to reduce their distress and withdrawing from others for fear of judgement are sadly common outcomes.

In their moment of need, many men simply do not know who, or where, to turn to. The reduced inhibitions from using alcohol in this moment of crisis, means thoughts of suicide may seem the only option. Sadly, this dangerous cocktail can lead to someone acting on these thoughts and the devastating outcome of a premature and avoidable death.

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By Dr Michelle Wright, HealthFirst

Every year on 10th October, the World Health Organisation observes World Mental Health Day. The aim of the day is to raise awareness globally about issues surrounding mental health, to get people talking, and to mobilise efforts to support mental health.

The latest World Health Organisation statistics reveal:

  • 1 billion people worldwide are living with a mental health disorder
  • 3 million people die every year from the harmful use of alcohol
  • 1 person dies every 40 seconds by suicide
  • And now, billions of people all over the world are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is having a further impact on people’s mental health

Never before have conversations about mental health and proactively looking after our mental health been so important. This year’s campaign for World Mental Health Day is calling for an increased investment in mental health – “Move for Mental Health: let’s invest!”

To acknowledge the gravity of the current situation and how it is impacting us all as individuals and as a global society, we are bringing the HealthFirst community together to mark World Mental Health Day 2020.

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By Dr Michelle Wright, HealthFirst

In Europe, around half of us will experience mental distress at some point in our lives, with depression and anxiety the most common diagnoses. But despite being so common, talking about mental health remains taboo and there is still a lot of misunderstanding, uncertainty, fear and stigmatization surrounding it.

Many people are not well informed about how to recognize mental health problems, how to respond to an affected person, or about the treatments available. In addition, because of worries about being perceived as weak, taking the step to open up to others about their own mental health isn’t always easy for someone.

To try to tackle these issues, the Pro Mente Sana Foundation, with support from the Beisheim Foundation, has recently launched the internationally recognized Mental Health First Aid program in Switzerland. Here it’s called ‘ensa Mental Health First Aid’, ‘ensa’ meaning ‘answer’ in one of the Aboriginal languages and being translatable in German, French, Italian and English. HealthFirst is proud to be recognized as an ensa Partner, providing certified ensa Mental Health First Aid courses in English throughout the country.

The program, originally developed in Australia, trains and empowers lay people to provide initial support to others who may be developing mental health problems, experiencing worsening of existing mental health problems, or who may be experiencing a mental health crisis. It’s essentially a First Aid training programme with similar principles to those for physical First Aid but this time for mental health.

Any interested person who wants to learn how they can support family members, friends or colleagues experiencing mental health difficulties can become a Mental Health First Aider. No healthcare background or pre-requisite training is necessary.