At the start of Mental Health Week, we look back at an article written by Tower Hamlets Family Intervention practitioner Steve Hackney for Pan European Networks about FIP’s approach to mental health support:
Would you be able to concentrate on reading this article if you had not eaten this morning? What if you also hadn’t eaten last night? Would your ability to focus upon the words on this page be hindered if you were physically unwell? What if you were seriously so? What if you were depressed and your every day blighted by a sense of unrelenting helplessness, hopelessness and crushed self-esteem?
Now picture instead that your task is to find a job after being unemployed for many years, to address your crippling financial debts or to attend a meeting about your threatened tenancy following your son’s antisocial behaviour.What if the day ahead demanded you address all three issues?
For many families supported by the Tower Hamlets Family Intervention Project (FIP) these situations are a painful reality. These families have to address multiple complex and entrenched problems while at the same time suffering from poor physical and psychological health. ‘Addressing the basic biological needs of a family acts as the starting point for our interventions. For those with none, we provide food. For those who cannot pay for their medication, we buy it.’ The trajectories into these problems are multiple and multifaceted, as are the approaches used by FIP to address them. Notably though, the roles of adverse psychological health and physical ailments in the manifestation of such issues are all too often described by families trying to make sense of their circumstances.
Stress, depression and anxiety disorders within our families are commonplace as they try to address the issues facing them. Fortunately, suicidal ideation and attempts are less prevalent but are still worryingly present in a small amount of cases. Such conditions can leave families feeling overwhelmed, helpless, isolated and without a vista or hope. The burden of this can hinder a family’s perceived ability to manage their finances, address their debts and pay their rent. In addition, it can cruelly affect the way they see, and interact with the world and others around them.