What’s it about?
Hi. I’m Johannes Dalhuijsen, a GP in Sunderland. Before that, I worked in Flagg Court, South Shields. To make life easier, patients can call me Dr D (no pun), or anything else. The people who run this website (Washington Mind) asked me to write a few pieces on mental health and wellbeing, for youths. The reason they asked was because I have a special interest in mental health. In the Sunderland GP Commissioning Group (CCG), which contracts most of Sunderland health care, I lead on developing the mental health services. In South Tyneside, I used to do similar stuff.
The reasons I said ‘yes’ are many:
For one thing, young people are our future. It’s hard to say such a thing isn’t important. Besides, I like working for the future.
Secondly, the more you can do to improve a young person’s health, the more likely it is they will be healthier in a decade or two. Obviously, it is in a GP’s interest to keep people healthy – it saves a lot of work later on!
Thirdly, GPs hardly see young people, except babies and toddlers. That doesn’t mean they don’t have health problems, or mental health problems. Actually, they do! Rather, it means we often see young people a bit late. You may feel uncomfortable in our surgeries, not confident or embarrassed to use up GP time when others in the waiting room seem more ill. Or maybe you just can’t get through to the receptionist on the phone; if that is so, I’m sorry. Please keep trying.
Whatever the case, don’t forget the GP is there for you, to help you. You are not there to help us. I’m not saying GPs don’t appreciate you being friendly to the reception staff! Anyway, if you feel you might benefit from help, even though you don’t know this for certain, for all sakes do call in. It could be important for your health and future, and for your loved ones. And did you know, you can come on your own, if you prefer to do so?
Back to business. A lot of good things have been written on mental health and wellbeing for the internet, but it can be difficult to find, in piles of information rubbish. This Wellbeinginfo website gives useful links, for instance to mind.org.uk, rethink.org, mentalhealth.org.uk and ntw.nhs.uk. You’ll find these links in the Mental Health chapter. I thought I’d do good to write something a bit different, more personal, based on my experience as a GP in this area. I set out with a list of topics, serious topics, like depression, anxiety, self harm, bullying, stress, anger, alcohol, drugs, getting a life, how to access to mental health services, etcetera. But I also asked the staff at Washington Mind, who do a lot of activities with young people, what young people might like to read about. They mentioned: ‘meaning and purpose in life’. Also: ‘safeguarding your mental health despite academic stress’, and ‘dealing with ideological abuse’. Ideological abuse? Yes, ‘being resilient in a society so defined by consumerism and norms for beauty’. Wow, talking about serious topics … well, that’s fine.
Next time – meaning and purpose it is. Not: ‘what IS the meaning of life’? Because, everyone will have their opinion, but no one really knows what the meaning of life is. And, if someone out there actually does know, we wouldn’t know who this person is! Rather, I will be discussing finding the meaning in our own lives, in your life. Most people seek an answer to this for themselves, a personal answer. And it certainly relates to mental health. But more about this in the next episode, in two weeks time.
Is there an area of mental health you would like Dr D to talk about? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org then watch this space!
Unfortunately Dr D is unable to offer one-to-one support or answer any medical questions relating to personal situations through this blog.
If you need this kind of support, contact your own GP surgery to make an appointment.
If you feel at risk of suicide click here for support agencies!