World Mental Health Day 2013

Opinion

Happy World Mental Health Day. It may seem like an unfortunate use of words to associate with mental health, but I believe that today is a positive thing. Mental health should be addressed, people should be talking about it and today should encourage more people to open up about their own experiences.

One in four people every year suffer with some form of mental health illness, but despite this, it has almost always been a taboo issue in the UK. We may have moved on from times when people with mental illnesses were victims of witch-hunts and thrown into jail but still now in the 21st century, society demonstrates a great fear of the unknown and a lack of understanding, which is scary in itself.

Mental health problems can affect anyone; men, women, adolescents and children and can have a dramatic impact on the patient and their family’s lives. In some cases sufferers have to continue to live with the shadow of their illness hanging over them, as despite the fact that half of sufferers are no longer affected after 18 months, society often fails to recognise that people can recover and lead normal lives. This creates more barriers that those inflicted must face and leads to people being deemed unemployable, unsafe and socially unaccepted. A vicious circle.

A survey by Time to Change campaign showed that 66 percent of university students say they have a mental health problem, yet only 0.3 percent would declare it on an application form. There is even evidence to suggest that men are less likely to get treated than women and are therefore three times more likely to commit suicide. This is a fact which saddens me greatly, and hits close to home. Knowing someone who recently took their own life, my views on mental health have been instilled more than ever, and I can’t help feeling, that if only there was no longer this black cloud of shame hanging over the mentally ill, then how many lives could be saved? Campaigning to rid stigma is one way of looking at it, but really we are fighting to save lives. How can that be ignored?

In the NHS Attitudes to Mental Illness Survey Report in 2011, 85 percent of those asked believed that people with a mental illness experience stigma and discrimination. This proves that as a nation we recognise there is a problem, yet still there is no significant change.

There is some hope though. Time to Change, which was set up in 2007, is England’s largest mental health anti-stigma campaign and is funded by Comic Relief, Big Lottery Fund and the British Government. The campaign is aiming to change attitudes and behaviour towards mental health through a variety of techniques, spreading their ‘It’s Time To Talk’ message. Time to Change believe that they have begun to reduce discrimination and improve public attitude towards mental health problems, and this is certainly true. In recent years awareness has greatened, with an increase in TV programs, blogs etc about mental health and more people are starting to speak out. However, it shouldn’t be just the ‘brave’ ones. Talking about mental health should be a normal part of life, just as physical illness is, and there is still a long way to go. It’s Time to Talk, it’s Time to Change.

 

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3 thoughts on “World Mental Health Day 2013

  1. Your response about depression basically depresses me. You have no idea, you are researching or googling your area of research. I have been there, it’s hard and impossible.
    The help available is next to nothing unless you enter the doctors surgery with your eyes hanging out and a noose hanging around your neck, I was suicidal and had no extra help.
    With the anti depressants i did improve, but, I was constantly worried about having a child. What if I was worse? I was not treated any different, I was terrified I would go into some kind of depression and not be able to look after my child. Not only was I a single parent, I thought I might harm my child, i spent the first few months breastfeeding, not sleeping, stressing, and hoping I would know when I wasn’t feeling right! I was lucky, I turned out gud, others don’t, they’re the ones who need help. one day I might, I will ask, that is my response, I WILL ask, I am not a superhero, I am an ask away… be my hero and help me rock my babys world . i am a mammy, i will always be the bomb!! x

    1. Thanks for your response Michelle! Reading back it does sound a bit googled I agree, but the statistics were taken from an article I wrote last year and just wanted to use them to back up my point really. I have been through mental health problems myself and this year have experienced how useless the NHS and help out there is, so far the only thing that has been any use is the anti depressants for me as well! That’s one of the reasons I started writing this blog but I’ve tried not to make it about my own experiences, but in this case I probably should of made it a bit more personal. So sorry if iv offended you or ‘downplayed’ what you went through in any way, that’s the last thing I intended and I completely agree with you! x

      1. Hey, I never wanted to offend any one and I appreciate your honesty in your reply. Depression does make every one shy away from personalising it, points for even aknowledging the “taboo” subject. The more awareness the better, why suffer when there is help? Why is it so difficult to admit defeat? It seems people will show their every weakness physically on tv, but, emotionally or mentally will hide every aspect until the very last. Why do we do this? What stops us from asking for help? x

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