Mental Health and Stigma – how honesty and support are vital
Mental health is a trending topic at the moment. So much so that Lloyds Bank has launched a national campaign in an attempt to tackle its effects, in partnership with the charity Mental Health UK.
While efforts such as these are admirable, unfortunately the stigma attached to mental health continues to be alive and well.
According to the national voluntary sector campaign Time to Change, around one in four people will experience a mental health problem this year. Yet a huge 90% of people with mental health problems “experience some form of stigma, whether from friends and family, at work, in education or during treatment.” Broken relationships, forgotten friendships and lost careers can all result from the stigma that surrounds mental health issues.
Ironically, the shame that so often surrounds mental health issues can be worse than the issues themselves. This is compounded when people are too terrified to speak out, trying desperately to maintain a ‘normal’ life as their internal world falls apart.
Many mental health issues are widely misunderstood, which can contribute to the stigma they receive. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a good example; how many times have you heard somebody telling you that they’re a “little bit OCD” about cleanliness or order?
In fact, OCD is a genuine mental illness that can wreak serious destruction on the lives of those who suffer from it. While OCD appears to be widespread, in fact only around 1% of the population will experience it.
A recent Time to Change survey showed that 60% of people with a mental health problem waited until at least a year had passed to tell the people closest to them about it. That’s a very long time to try holding everything together all by yourself, and if you are struggling in this situation then it is worth considering that there is a wealth of support available to you.
It’s time for our society’s attitudes and responses to mental health to change for good. So let’s all resolve to try. As a starting point, simply being open, non-judgemental and unafraid to discuss mental health issues go a very long way to challenging the stigma they so often receive.
After all, with so many people suffering from mental health issues in the UK alone, who is anybody to say it’s “not OK?”
Finally, if you’re still feeling alone with your issues, it may help to remember that the people chosen to take on life’s most powerful and high-profile positions are just as vulnerable to mental health problems. Winston Churchill famously described depression as his “black dog”, while in Norway, Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik took three weeks of sick leave following a depressive episode. Far from being vilified, Bondevik reported receiving “thousands of supportive letters”.
Whether you are suffering from a mental health issue or are worried about somebody else who might be, All About People provide a safe and completely confidential counselling service. Our team of experienced therapists are trained in a range of therapeutic approaches, and are ready and waiting to listen to you.
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