Tuesday, 11 October 2016

'If we end the stigma on mental health, we can save lives'

Who cares about mental health when it’s not going on in your own mind, right? It’s just attention seeking and weird to have any mental health issues, isn’t it? It’s all a lie for sympathy, correct? Wrong, wrong and wrong – if you think like this then you are the reason why I am writing this article. So sit back with a coffee, tea or a snack and let me attempt to educate you.

Yesterday was the annual World Mental Health Day, which falls on October 10 every year. The national day aims to get people talking about mental health and encourages people to gather their loved ones, workmates and anyone they can, to sit and talk about the issues and struggles that millions of people are facing daily.

It’s pretty tragic really. Why do we need a national day to talk about something so serious? Surely something as serious as an illness that causes people to end their own lives should be openly discussed so that it can be resolved? Well, ladies and gentleman if only that was the case. People are scared to talk about their mental health, people are struggling, people are alone in a world with billions of us in it and people are dying because of this. I’ve witnessed it in school, on social media and even in the adult world that some people mock mental health, poking fun out of depression and belittling issues.

The next time you call someone attention seeking when you clock their self-harm scars on their wrist feel ashamed. Feel ashamed because that person could be battling the worst battle in their mind that you could ever possibly imagine. Feel ashamed because you belittled mental health and you’re the reason people are still losing their mums, dads, children and loved ones to mental health.

 I have never had depression, I don’t have bipolar or borderline personality disorder, I don’t suffer from body dysmorphic disorder, I’ve never had an eating disorder, I’ve never battled hypomania or mania, I don’t have panic attacks or paranoia, I haven’t experienced postnatal depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, I’ve never had psychotic experiences, schizoaffective disorder, seasonal affective disorder, problems with my self-esteem and I have never self-harmed and committing suicide has never even entered my mind. Why am I telling you this? Just because you don’t suffer from any mental health issues doesn’t mean that you can’t learn to understand them, it doesn’t mean that you should avoid them and it certainly doesn’t give you the right to judge someone with a mental health issue. I may not suffer from mental health issues but I sure as hell want to do something to help anyone who does.


But if you think mental health doesn’t affect you, you are very wrong. Recent stats have shown that mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain, ten per cent of mothers and six per cent of fathers in the UK have mental health problems at any given time,  and as many as 10 percent of people in England will experience depression in their lifetime. Still, don’t think it affects your life? I promise you, one day in your life someone dear to you will most likely experience one of the mental illnesses I listed and you need to be ready and educated to help them.

If we end the stigma on mental health, we can save lives.

If you’re suffering from mental health, feeling suicidal or struggling please speak out. You can always talk to me, I’m no expert but I will listen and be a friend to you if you’re alone, you can contact me via vavaviolett@outlook.com or you can find professional help and call lines by visiting http://www.get.gg/helplines.htm

The photographs used were taken by Carmen Hyden (Instagram @cmh_p) and portray a person feeling trapped – much like the feelings expressed by someone who suffers from their mental health.

Soph x

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