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Sandra Dean – Registered Member

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Stop the stigma!

Reasons to stop the stigma surrounding mental health issues

The fact is that one in four of us will experience some form of mental health issue, but in reality, I think, with today’s fast paced and stressful environment and economy, there are far more than that, and many people live with mental health issues in ignorance, because they don’t affect them enough to cause major problems with their life.

There is nothing to be ashamed of in mental health issues – they should be treated just the same as a physical illness. It can be hard, as you cannot ‘see’ it but it is time we stood still and tried to understand a little bit. Sometimes one can be susceptible to issues and others may find that an event or stressor forms these issues later in life.

The main thing getting in the way of recovery is the stigma surrounding mental health issues. It is very hard to talk about with others as they may either not understand the problem, not want to understand the problem and talk about it, or may even shy away from talking about it at all. This can make life a very lonely place and I experienced all sides of the spectrum of people’s reactions when I first decided to talk about it after years of silence. I admit I was not impressed by some of the reactions and they were most unhelpful to me.

Having depression or mental illness doesn’t mean that one is mad or antisocial – on the contrary, many sufferers are kind hearted and docile. The media doesn’t help either. For example, they have been known to suggest a person with schizophrenia is violent and a menace to society, which is utter rubbish. In fact, sufferers are more likely to harm themselves than others and are not violent at all. Mental health illnesses portrayed in film and news are most often sensationalised, and this really should be stopped, as it is so unhelpful to sufferers and those around them who are getting the wrong idea.

Education is needed to help more people understand what it really feels like to suffer with depression, and other mental health disorders, as many think individuals are making it up, because you cannot ‘see’ it.

When people talk about ‘stigma of mental health’ there really is one. The more I tried to ‘come out’ and talk to people about my problems, the more alienated I seemed to get. People preferred to glaze over it, telling me to get a grip, a job, or that I shouldn’t hide behind illness. Charming! Since this was a very difficult obstacle to overcome, as I wanted to share my experiences, but was unable to find the right platform for it, I felt even more alone with my problems. No one seemed to understand or even want to. It was almost like I was making it all up.

When I went to seek help professionally, the obstacle became the way I looked – because I ‘look alright’ I can’t be too bad. Yes, I do look alright, and if I was not I would stay indoors, but this is no reason to ignore someone’s pleas for help.

People ‘discriminate’ against others with mental health problems and therefore are in effect confirming that the ‘stigma’ is true and correct, yet it clearly is not.

Something really needs to be done to ensure that this attitude changes for the benefit of all.

I would like to suggest that we take another stance on our thoughts on mental health, and realise that those who suffer from one also need care and charity from others, and some understanding for who they are. They are just like you, apart from some of the things they think or feel, but they are not bad people or mad people.

Also, those with a problem, need to speak out and tell others, so that they can be supported, and not hide away and worry about what others will think or how they will react – there is a lot of support out there too!

For ideas on how to help CLICK HERE

read more on my campaign HERE

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