Moving towards a mentally healthy society
As of 2018, it’s estimated that approximately 16 million people in the UK are experiencing mental illness.
Thats about 25% of the population
Its a shocking statistic…
… And a number that keeps rising at exponential rates.
As a society we are growing more mentally unhealthy and our attitudes towards mental illness needs to change.
But what can be done?
Here, I share some of the ways I believe we, as a collective community of sufferers, survivors and supporters, can move towards creating a more mentally healthy society… for the better.
Stigma, Shaming & Stereotypes
The stigma around having a mental health condition can be difficult to deal with. Many people who have a mental illness are stereotyped.
Sadly though, stereotypical thinking goes hand-in-hand with shaming.
But as a society we need to realise that each individual who struggles with their mental health is not ‘just sad’ if they have a diagnosis of depression, or ‘just nervous’ if they have an anxiety disorder.
There is no single ‘face’ of Bi-Polar. There is no single voice of Schizophrenia. There is no single ‘weight’ of Eating Disorders.
There are so many ways to describe each individuals relationship to their mental health.
To begin with, I know first-hand that accepting you are struggling with keeping your mental health in check can be tough. Nobody likes to admit they are facing difficulties or going through rough times.
“Why is my brain like this?”…
“I’m too scared of admitting I need help”…
… These are phrases that were constantly in my vocabulary. They were the words that went through my head repeatedly during the hardest times of my journey with mental health issues.
I struggled for a long time to accept that I had poor mental health and didn’t understand or know how to reach out for help in constructive (and not destructive) ways. Because my thought process was so fragmented at the time wasn’t sure how to approach my friends, family or medical professionals when I needed support.
However, it was during the time I was sectioned in the psychiatric hospital that I found myself gaining a hint of acceptance of my difficulties.
I realised that “change starts from within”.
This helped me to see the various treatment methods (consisting of numerous types of therapy and medications) I was receiving at the time as ‘reconditioning’ of my mind instead of a ‘quick snap fix’. I was essentially accepting that I was learning how to train my brain into being healthy again.
I’m not saying that when you accept you are struggling you will change instantly from a struggler to being ‘cured’; but you may find yourself reacting to treatment that is provided in a more responsive way.
Secondly, we as a society need to accept that Mental Health issues exist. That statement may sound blunt, but we as a society need to step up and recognise that people are suffering and struggling mentally. Mental Illness is a silent killer. Just because it isn’t physical and visible, doesn’t mean it isn’t real.
We each have our own battles to face. We all have ups and downs. We all struggle. We all have a Mental Health. Let’s not put those down who are struggling but be supportive towards them. No matter what you may or may not be facing, we need to stand together as one.
Acceptance is a process. It’s something I’m still working on every day.
When it comes to Mental Health, the word awareness is a word used so often.
But what does it actually mean?
To me, awareness means a combination of things.
Knowing, Accepting and Feeling.
You don’t have to be a genius to be aware…
… You need to be human.
I’m becoming more aware of Mental Health everyday- it’s so refreshing to gain knowledge and use it to help others too.
Heres some of the ways I find useful:
- Podcasts / Books / Short Films / Blogs (I’ll be doing a blog post soon where I’ll be sharing some of my personal favourites and recommendations)
- Attending Events, Talks and Conferences (Many also have Live Feeds online if you can’t attend)
- Talking openly to those who have mental health difficulties. (Don’t be afraid to ask!)
To summarise; there is no one size fits all ‘cure’ when it comes to moving towards a more mentally healthy society. It’s a process that each individual respectively must take in their own time, at their own pace.
We need to drop the Stigma, Shaming and Stereotypes. We need to have Acceptance. We need to have more Awareness.
We need to Speak Out.