Archive for the Mental Health Category

Punched Out

Posted in Mental Health on April 20, 2017 by telescoper

A tragic and harrowing  last blog post from an academic who took his own life yesterday. I suspect his thoughts resonate with many academics. They certainly do with me. But don’t get the wrong idea about my reasons for reblogging the article. I am not, and never have been, suicidal.  I just thing it is important to at least try to understand why.

Please read the article, and then read some of the comments following it and despair.

‘What a piece of work is Man.”

Will Opines

Assuming I did not botch the task, by the time this posts I will have been dead via suicide for several hours.  Nope, that’s not a setup to a joke.[1]

Why would someone who is healthy, employed, has every outside appearance of success, and so on, take their own life? In my case the answer is simple enough: I was done, but my body wasn’t.  But that answer isn’t satisfying, so, for those who are aggrieved, upset, saddened, etc., let me do my best to try to explain.

And lest you imagine me some sort of sad human whom you should pity, I have never had that view of myself (aside from the occasional pity party, of course).  I did struggle with that self perception on and off as an adolescent and teen.  But since becoming a young adult I came to understand myself as a remarkably privileged human…

View original post 2,480 more words

You have the power to change someone’s life – Time to Talk Day 2017

Posted in Mental Health with tags , , on February 2, 2017 by telescoper

time-to-talk-day

Today, 2nd February 2017, is Time to Talk Day, which means that it’s time for the nation’s biggest conversation about mental health.

One in four adults and one in ten young people will experience a mental health problem every year. Talking about it doesn’t have to be difficult but can make a big difference. It’s easy to have a conversation about mental health, and it could change someone’s life (including yours). You don’t have to be an expert to help: sometimes just asking  how they are is all you need to do to help someone who’s having a hard time.

Here’s a little video about Time to Talk Day:

For more information on how to get involved see here.

Changing Patterns of Work

Posted in Biographical, Mental Health with tags on November 28, 2016 by telescoper

I read an interesting piece in yesterday’s Observer about a number of people who have decided to switch careers, or at least change the pattern of their working life, relatively late in life. Unlike the cases described in the article, I haven’t had the nerve to try an entirely new kind of job – at least not yet! – but I did feel the article in question had some relevance to my own decision, made a few months ago, to resign from my previous post as Head of the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex and move back to Cardiff.

I’m not going to go into all the reasons for stepping down, but one of them is I wanted to establish a better work-life balance. Fortunately, I never sold my little house in Cardiff and had also paid off the mortgage on that property some years ago, so returning to live there full-time was relatively straightforward and meant reducing my outgoings considerably.  I was therefore more than happy to accept the offer of a position here on a 50% salary. In other words, I am officially a part-time member of staff. I’m planning to use the other 50% to pursue some other interests, such as writing a couple of books and running the Open Journal of Astrophysics, but generally just taking more time off the treadmill of academic life.

Another thing I ought to mention is that my current position is fixed-term, for three years only. The earliest I’ll be able to retire is when I am  55, which is still a couple of years away. Whether I do go then depends on a number of things, including how difficult the University funding environment becomes as a result of loss of EU income and the proposed large reduction in numbers of overseas students.  If things become really tight I think it’s important for people of my age to make way so that the younger generation have a better chance. Perhaps I won’t retire at that time anyway. Perhaps I’ll follow the example of the folk in the Observer piece and start a new career as something completely different!

Having said that I’m a part-time member of staff, I have to also admit that I’m finding it quite difficult actually working part-time. This is largely because the University’s calendar of business continues at a full-time rate. Some of the jobs I’ve been asked to do in my new role – specifically designing a couple of  new postgraduate courses – had to be completed quite soon after I arrived, something I had not realized when I accepted the position here! However, now that those deadlines have been met I can hopefully settle down to a regular pattern of work, involving a bit of teaching and research in the School of Physics & Astronomy and helping get the Data Innovation Research Institute off the ground. When things have settled into a steady state I think I’ll start filling in time sheets – not for anyone else’s use, but for my own records. I can manage comfortably on a part-time salary, but I draw the line at unpaid overtime.

On the other hand, it’s always difficult to draw the line when you’re an academic. We’re basically paid to think and most of us don’t stop doing that even during our time off..

World Mental Health Day

Posted in Mental Health on October 10, 2016 by telescoper

image

Today is World Mental Health Day 2016, so I made use of the part-time nature of my current employment to take the day off work and, among other things, go for a walk in the park in the autumn sunshine. That is all.

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week

Posted in Mental Health on May 17, 2016 by telescoper

image

I will just add a comment of my own. No job is worth risking your mental health for. Nor is anything else for that matter.

For further information see the Mental Health Awareness Week website.

Farewell to Whitchurch..

Posted in Biographical, Mental Health with tags , , on May 4, 2016 by telescoper

One of the things that happened over the Bank Holiday Weekend was the closure of Whitchurch Hospital on April 30th 2016. I read about this here, from which source I also took the photograph below:

Whitchurch-Hospital-2

Whitchurch Hospital was built in 1908 and was originally known as Cardiff City Asylum. After over a hundred years of providing care for the mentally ill – including soldiers treated for shell shock in two world wars – the remaining patients have now been transferred to a brand new psychiatric care unit at Llandough.

It was strange reading about the closure of Whitchurch Hospital. Having spent more time myself there than I wish I had, including an extended period an acute ward, I never thought I would feel nostalgic about the place. Quite apart from the fact that it looked like something out of a Gothic novel, it was in dire need of refurbishment and modernisation. Looking back, however, I have the greatest admiration for the staff who worked there and deep gratitude for the patience and kindness they showed me while I was there.

The first extended period I spent in a psychiatric institution, back in the 1980s, was in Hellingly Hospital in Sussex. That place also had something of the Hammer House of Horror about it. I was completely terrified from the moment I arrived there to the moment I was discharged and don’t feel any nostalgia for it at all.  When I recently looked at what it is like now – derelict and decaying – it gave me more than a shudder.

 

The Ways We Touch

Posted in Mental Health, Poetry on March 8, 2016 by telescoper

Have compassion for everyone you meet,
even if they don’t want it.
What appears bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism
is always a sign of things no ears have heard,
no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets
the bone.

by Miller Williams (1930-2015)