Mental health stigma stopped me getting help
One in four of us will have experienced a mental health problem this year
The number of us affected by mental health issues is a rising number, especially among university students. Anxiety and depression are the most common, with nearly 10% of the population officially diagnosed, according to The Health and Social Care Information Centre.
It’s not just us everyday folk affected either. Famous names such as Johnny Depp, Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Moss, and Emma Stone, have all spoken out about their experiences too.
Yet no matter how common, or how highly publicised people with these issues are, mental health diagnosis is still stigmatised. Others suspect sufferers as weak or selfish. The topic itself is often a taboo subject to be avoided.
Such reactions result in many hiding their feelings for fear of how people will react or treat them.
We don’t take mental illness seriously enough.
No-one would ever blame you for feeling pain when you have a broken leg, and mental illness is no different. But due to a general lack of understanding, people often see problems with the mind as a sign of weakness. A “just pull yourself together and get over it” affair.
Mental illness is not a choice and the more awareness for it that develops, the easier it will probably become for people to access support and recover.
When you speak to those who struggle with mental illness, it becomes pretty clear the effect this can have. The Tab spoke to a few students, who struggle with anxiety and depression. They said:
“When you suffer from a mental illness you really hate yourself. When people then react badly to you trying to be honest with them and explain how you feel, it is unbearable. It proves all the things you’ve been trying to tell yourself that your mind is making up. To be judged and mocked for something you can’t help is worse than cruel.”
“I think that if everyone was taught about mental illness, the stigma wouldn’t exist. Everyone would be correctly informed, no one would be mean because they would properly understand what the other person was going through.”
“The stigma around mental health is the main reason I didn’t get help for so long. People I thought were friends turned their backs on me when I told them. They thought I was crazy, over-sensitive, and infectious. I started to believe them, I thought it was my fault. If it wasn’t for people’s reactions, I would have got help a long time ago.”
From just these words we can see a call for getting more people informed. It’s time we end the stigma, start talking about mental health without shame or fear, get each other informed. It’s time we were kinder, helpful, and more understanding to others.