Silence on mental health – that’s the global crisis……
It’s not the prevalence of mental health that is the crisis – it’s the stigma and discrimination that’s the real issue. The stigma which continues to shroud all forms mental illness is deeply unhelpful.
- It prevents people seeking the help that they need
- It prevents people talking, sharing and comparing experiences
- It makes it hard for individuals and organisations to build on successful strategies and avoid those that don’t work so well
Research we recently conducted with the mental health anti-stigma campaign, Time To Change, tested different concepts for changing attitudes to mental health. The resulting campaign, launched last month and already watched almost 70,000 times, gives a strong and heartfelt plea – I feel bad, don’t make me feel shame and embarrassment too, don’t single me out, don’t define me by illness alone.
Not everyone wants to share how they’re feeling or talk about their health conditions. However, some people do and we should take their lead. Talking about mental health – which affects everyone, good or bad – is critical.
We must take the opportunity of World Mental Health Day to talk about the issues. You can do this within your own families, friendship groups and amongst colleagues and you can also join some inspiring local initiatives. Last Sunday, on Bournemouth Beach, a hundred or so people gathered to walk in celebration of people who had ‘beaten’ depression and other mental health problems. In Southwark, a local charity, Mental Fight Club has just launched a Dragon Cafe – a place to build connections and a safe space to talk about and share their experiences.
To aid recovery and encourage well-being we have to feel able to talk freely about mental health. We must all take an active interest in mental health. We all have mental health. In order to genuinely be able to support those of us experiencing mental health problems, then we all need to be prepared to actively manage and protect our own mental well-being – and stay well-connected.