In the wake of Jeremy Corbyn appointing Luciana Berger as Minister for Mental Health to his shadow cabinet, we came across an online movement called Project Semicolon. In their own words the “Project Semicolon is not a 24-hour helpline, nor are we trained mental health professionals.” but instead the project gives space to those suffering with mental illness, suicidal tendencies, addiction and self-harming to share their story. The project’s followers are also tattooing the semicolon on their skin to show their struggle, how they overcame the battle against the illness and to help end the stigma around mental illness.
Projects like Semicolon highlight how mental illness patients need so much more support than what they have access now. The idea that this is the first time a Minister for Mental Health was appointed since Cabinet started is not only absurd but extremely sad. As someone who batted mental illness and went through the precarious NHS Mental Health care it makes me awfully aware of all the struggle patients endure to be diagnosed and finally treated. GP doctors, ER doctors, nurses stretched to the limit with “bodily illnesses” are sometimes oblivious to the signs and calls for help from those who not always have wounds to show but certainly are locked in the middle of a raging war. These people are left many times without a place to run, care or are wrongly treated. Governments – no matter the party, the country or the ideology – need to understand that to build a better society you need to better the mental health care system. Less cases of untreated mental illness would mean less homelessness, less crime, less suicides, less self-harm, less lives lost.
Certainly it will take a great deal of work until Luciana Berger can officially make impactful moves that will change patient’s care but we have the duty as the public to guide and assist these decisions. The Independent recently published a story about how NHS bosses think mental health patients should have a saying in what needs changing:
“People with mental health issues should be more involved in running the services they use, a group representing NHS managers has recommended. Helen Birtwhistle, the external affairs director at the NHS Confederation, said service users were best placed to tell health service bosses where improvements needed to be made.”
So how can you help? Contact to your MP, express to them your concerns, ideas and ask about what they are doing to solve it. Donate, there are wonderful charities out there doing a good job to help and orientate those suffering. Join a campaign, on facebook, on your street, online – anywhere. Run a mile, cycle a mile, fundraise, get together with friends and talk about it! For the first time in the history of mankind mental illness is under the spotlight, a faint spotlight indeed, but we must make sure it doesn’t go unnoticed anymore. We must make sure our brothers, sisters, neighbours, friends, lovers, relatives will be look after when they need the most.
BuzzFeedYellow’s What Is The Semicolon Tattoo Project? – 18 Aug 2015