Suicide Prevention: Hh Community Needs to be There
It’s no secret (among hyperhidrosis sufferers at least) that the impacts of excessive sweating are linked to mental and emotional distress. During our recent Patient-Focused Drug Development (PFDD) initiative on hyperhidrosis, social and emotional trauma came up again and again. We repeatedly heard participants discuss thoughts of self-harm and desperation, and we often get emails from ETS patients echoing the same, and worse. Indeed, hyperhidrosis sufferers describe feelings evoked by their sweating as:
Humiliation, Embarrassment, Shame, Anxiety, Depression, Inferiority, Isolation, Stress, Panic, Hopelessness, Loneliness, Disdain, Disgust, and “Drowning.”
Beyond the PFDD and our inbox, medical data also points to the emotional toll of hyperhidrosis:
- The prevalence of anxiety and depression is significantly higher in those with hyperhidrosis than those without Hh (21.3% vs 7.5% and 27.2% vs 9.7%, respectively). (J Am Acad Dermatol 2016)
- 5% of hyperhidrosis sufferers indicate they take antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications due to their sweating. (Brit J Dermatol 2002)
But there is much we CAN do!
The International Hyperhidrosis Society is fighting to help prevent suicide and encouraging our staff, advocates and community members to take a Mental Health First Aid course so we can better help one another and ourselves. Physicians, school nurses, teachers, coaches, and parents: this means you, too! September is National Suicide Prevention Month and it’s a great moment to raise awareness about the struggles in our own community. The foundation we lay now can make a difference throughout the year.
Studies show that mental health first aid saves lives, improves the mental health of the individual administering care as well as the one receiving it, and much more. More than 1 million people in the United States alone are already trained in Mental Health First Aid including former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama.
- Courses usually take just 8 hours of your time.
- Youth- or adult-focused classes available.
- They’re often free!
- You’ll learn how to help in a mental health crisis, about common mental illnesses, about recovery and resiliency, and more.
The journal Clinics in Dermatology notes that skin issues leading to emotional distress, changes in body image, difficulties in close relationships, and impaired daily activities (sound familiar?) are all linked to higher risks of self-harm. Now is the time to get prepared to help one another.
As a special thank-you for your effort, we’re teaming up with Summer Soles to provide everyone who completes a Mental Health First Aid course with a free pair of absorbent insoles. Snap a pic of your completion certificate (or scan it) and send it to Summer Soles for the Soul along with your name, address, and men’s or women’s shoe size to participate. Thank you, Summer Soles, for walking this path with us!
If you’ve already taken Mental Health First Aid, lift us up with stories of your experience and email Summer Soles for the Soul to get your free insoles. Looking for reassurance you’re not alone? Read our Real Stories and Real Letters from Hh sufferers.
If you’re struggling, help is available.
- If you are located in the U.S., visit The Lifeline.
- If you are located outside of the U.S., visit IASP
Loved ones, the experts at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline recommend five ways to #BeThe1To make a difference in a person’s life:
- Keep them safe
- Be there
- Help them connect
- Follow up
If you believe you or someone in your life may be suicidal, and you’re in the U.S. please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to speak to a counselor, or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org. The Lifeline is confidential, free, and available 24/7.
To find crisis centers in around the world, visit: https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/