Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Helping Those Who Cannot Hope

This blog is late because our family was stuck in America by the ash cloud from the Icelandic volcano grounding our flight home. We ended up being away for a month, but despite the uncertainty and potential for worry we decided to hope that everything would be resolved before too long, and in the meantime enjoy our extended holiday.

You may have heard the often quoted line from the Bible that the most important things are “Faith, Hope and Love.” Someone once commented to me that they understood why Faith and Love are so special, but what is so wonderful about Hope? Surely things like generosity, honesty or kindness are more important qualities to cultivate?

Depression is the most common mental illness, with one in four people suffering from it at some point in their lives. It is also an illness which robs people of hope. On the LawCare helpline we often hear from people who are so severely clinically depressed that they really cannot see any hope to their situation. The call may go something like this:

Caller: “I just feel so bad, I can’t cope.”
LawCare: “Have you considered going to speak to your GP?”
Caller: “He won’t be able to help me.”
LawCare: “He might prescribe anti-depressants.”
Caller: “I’d only get addicted to them.”
LawCare: “Most of the newer types of anti-depressants are not addictive.”
Caller: “They won’t work.”
LawCare: “Perhaps your GP would refer you for some counselling.”
Caller: “That won’t do any good.”
LawCare: “Would it help to have a LawCare volunteer to speak to regularly?”
Caller: “It won’t make any difference, it’s not worth it.”
LawCare: “What other options have you considered?”
Caller: “There’s nothing that will help. I don’t know why I phoned you. I knew you wouldn’t be able to do anything. Goodbye.”

This may sound extreme, but calls from those who have been robbed of hope can be just like this. The caller genuinely cannot see any solution to their current predicament, no matter what is suggested. The good news is that there really is hope. Anti-depressants, especially when combined with counselling, do work. People do recover from depression and learn to find hope, optimism and even happiness again. Many of them, while subject to repeated episodes of this illness, learn to recognise and deal with it in the early stages – and it is much easier to treat depression if it is caught early, whilst there is still hope.

If you don’t think hope is as important as faith and love, just imagine what it must be like not to have any. That’s why LawCare is here to help.

LawCare’s free and confidential helpline is available 9-7.30 Monday-Friday, 10-4 weekends, on:
0800 279 6888 (Solicitors, Law Students and Legal Executives in England and Wales)
0800 279 6869 (Solicitors, Advocates and Law Students in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man)
0800 018 4299 (Barristers, Clerks and Judges in England and Wales)
1800 991801 (Solicitors in the Republic of Ireland)
1800 303145 (Barristers in the Republic of Ireland)