A teenager who has suffered with panic attacks in the past is working with Fixers to normalise mental health issues.
Emily Long, 18, teamed up with her friend Daska Knapcova, 18, to make a film to help people understand that they need to take such conditions seriously.
They want the public to appreciate that basic first aid skills are needed for dealing with mental health issues, just as much as for physical illnesses in an emergency.
‘We want to make mental health something people feel happy to talk openly about,’ explains Emily. ‘You can’t see mental health so people don’t always know how to react when they are confronted with it in everyday life.’
Emily, from the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, knows first-hand how important it is for people to learn basic mental health first aid skills.
‘It’s a very personal subject to me,’ she says. ‘I’ve experienced panic attacks in the past and have found people have reacted to me in a variety of ways.’
A panic attack is a feeling of sudden and intense anxiety.
Panic attacks can also have physical symptoms, including shaking, feeling disorientated, nausea, rapid, irregular heartbeats, dry mouth, breathlessness, sweating and dizziness.
While they are not dangerous, the symptoms of a panic attack can be very frightening.
They can make a person you are having a heart attack, or that you are going to collapse or even die.
Most panic attacks last somewhere from five minutes to half an hour.
‘I’ve had a panic attack when I’ve been at home with my mum before and she has helped by putting a wet flannel on my face,’ says Emily.
‘But on the other hand, I’ve had one in crowded situations and people haven’t known how to react, they have told me to calm down and that everything will be ok, which has just made things worse.
‘I think people generally understand mental health issues to a certain degree but they don’t know enough.’
Emily and Daska’s Fixers film highlights that just because mental health conditions aren’t visible, they still need to be treated as seriously as physical conditions.
Focusing on panic attacks, the film gives clear information on what people should do if they come across someone having one.
The girls held a Fixers assembly at a local school to share the message of their campaign, and they are now looking forward to sharing their film on social media.
To find other resources on this topic, and watch Fixers films, click on the image below: