Mental Health – let’s talk.
11th October 2018
It is never easy opening up to someone about your mental health. It never gets easier to try and find a way to describe the heavy feelings in your chest, the constant whirling of sad thoughts that sit in your head and the lack of motivation you sometimes have to just get out of bed. Mental health is STILL a taboo subject, not discussed in many households or places of work. It is 2018- we have cars that drive themselves, we can send people into space and even choose the gender of our children, yet we can’t bring ourselves to talk openly about mental health… This taboo needs to go. It is outdated and with statistics showing that mental illness is at an all-time high, what better time to make this change could there be than right now?
I think it would be accurate to say that we all want to believe our families, close friends and colleagues would be able to talk to us about anything… but that is just not the case. It can often take years of struggling for individuals to go and see their GP as the stigma behind a mental illness diagnosis can be one of the scariest parts. People respond to the idea of mental health problems negatively leaving individuals reluctant to disclose their feelings and thoughts or diagnosis to the people around them. This results in thousands of people suffering in silence which is not helping. The person sat at the desk opposite you in the office… are they okay? Ask them once, and then ask them again. Let them know that you are genuinely interested about what they tell you, that you’ll be someone who will listen and someone who will be there as a support. No judgement and no recrimination.
Across the world a person dies by suicide every 40 seconds, according to the World Health Organization: a figure that we can reduce by just simply talking. Mental health awareness has come a long way over the last few years, yet there is still a long way to go. Alongside the awareness, we have a need for action. This is required in order to fight stigma, campaign for change and push for reform in mental health.
It was announced on Wednesday 10th October 2018, that the Prime Minister has appointed a minister for suicide prevention in England. Jackie Doyle-Price, as the new minister for mental health, inequalities and suicide prevention, will take on tackling the stigma and start the conversations that we can all be a part of. The government has also promised to deliver higher levels of support in schools, bringing in new mental health support teams and offering help in measuring students’ health, that will include their mental wellbeing.
“We can end the stigma that has forced too many to suffer in silence and prevent the tragedy of suicide taking too many lives.” –Mrs May.
Managing a mental illness can be difficult enough, just like managing a long-term physical health problem can, but imagine feeling unable to tell anyone that you’ve got asthma or diabetes. It’s unthinkable. Talking makes a big difference and social contact – where people both with and without mental illness join together to have a conversation- is an extremely powerful approach in destroying the taboo around the issue.
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week 2018 with Mental Health Awareness Day falling in the middle of it (10Th October 2018). I have seen numerous posts shared on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all in support of raising mental health awareness, which has been many more than I saw last year. Obviously this is a good thing! It is a massive indicator of how far we have come within a year in regards to being more open about our mental health. However, let’s make it more regular than just one week a year. Let’s tell people ‘it’s okay not to be okay’ all year round and if they’re not okay- listen, support, help.
If you or someone you know is suffering with mental health, then please know it will help to talk. It’s okay to feel down, and it’s definitely more than okay to talk. Friends, family, colleagues, your doctor, charities… there are so many different people that will be willing to listen and will want to be part of making you feel better.
There are lots of people who can offer support, with a few listed here:
Telephone: 116 123 (24 hours a day, free to call)
- Mind Infoline:
Telephone: 0300 123 3393 (9am-6pm Monday to Friday) or text 86463
- Rethink Mental Illness Advice Line:
Telephone: 0300 5000 927 (9.30am – 4pm Monday to Friday)
Telephone: 0300 304 7000 (4:30pm-10:30pm)