1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year, there are so many people around us that are going through problems without telling anyone.
Our work colleagues, friends and even family. We can never assume we know what’s going on in people’s lives. Until there is solid scientific evidence of telepathy then we’re not going to know unless people express their feels and concerns. All genders have hardships, so I’m not going to claim we have to treat everyone the same. The reality is that you’ve got to treat everyone how they like to be treated and how their needs fit. Where counselling might help one depressed man, medication might be the only solution for another. The stigma we have towards mental health problems and disorders is upsetting. People not only criticise those with disorders but they belittle them and make them feel as though they aren’t even a person.
Why should we talk about mental health?
Other than the fact that mental health disorders affect so many of us throughout our lives, you should be talking about them for some many other reasons. We need to be educated on these disorders. Do you know the symptoms of chicken pox? I’m guessing you do. They’re easy, right? A cold, itchiness and raised lumps on the skin. Now if I asked you the symptoms of Schizophrenia you probably wouldn’t know unless you worked in that field. Around just under 4 million people are affected by Chickenpox every year and it’s curable with medication. Now tell me why it’s ok that nearly 2 million people suffer from schizophrenia each year and we can’t roll the symptoms off our tongues? Normally, it would be symptoms like voices in your head and visions. However, schizophrenia is an umbrella for so many other disorders this is just the tip of the iceberg.
We need to start learning about mental health in schools.
Young children should be able to calm someone down from an anxiety attack like they can spoon some Calpol into their mouths. Teenagers shouldn’t be suffering in silence over exam stress and depression. Adults shouldn’t be going to work even though they’ve had a psychotic episode the night before. Yet they do, why? Because our society is yet to fully be aware of these problems. It’s about educating ourselves and the people around us on not just the symptoms but how we can help and where we can get that help from.
I’ve spoken to so many people in my life that won’t go and see someone even though they think they need help. Yet, if they suspected they had a throat infection they’d be at the doctor’s straight away. There are so many services out there that are free and that provide help for those suffering from a mental health disorder but they aren’t being used to their potential because people just aren’t aware they exist.
Why do we have stereotypes?
Depression isn’t just feeling sad all the time, anxiety isn’t just feeling worried all the time and bipolar isn’t just about having big mood swings. There is so much more to these disorders, just like the idea that there isn’t one type of cancer. Depression can come in many forms and they’re not always easy to spot. Stereotyping mental health puts everyone in the same box which is completely wrong. Would you put someone under the same illness if one had alopecia and the other had a tumour? I know I wouldn’t. We need to start breaking down the stereotypes of these disorders and no only being aware of their true form but realising that they’re all completely different to each other.
How can you help?
Well, it’s pretty simple really. I’m not saying go out and raise money for a mental health charity like MIND or something like that (although that would be amazing). Just look a little more at these disorders and know how to spot them. Be there for people when they need you and know what to do if someone needs help or guidance. The best thing you could do for someone who thinks they’re suffering from a mental health disorder is to get them help. Whether that is a counsellor, support worker or a therapist. There are so many options and don’t let them think that there isn’t.
Next time someone jokes about having an eating disorder or depression educate them. Them the facts about these disorders, that the fact that 725,000 people suffer from an eating disorder every year. Or that 6,639 people have committed suicide since the start of 2017. Then maybe they’ll start talking about mental health problems like they do with illnesses they can actually see.
It’s time to change, don’t wait for anyone else.
Be the change you wish to see in the world.