World Mental Health day was last week and you probably didn’t even know about it

The stigma needs to be broken

October 10th 2017 was World Mental Health Awareness day.

If it were World Cancer Awareness Day everyone would be holding bake sales, and running 5k races trying to raise money and wearing pink ribbons in solitude. Doing anything in an attempt to form a community through opening any meeting with "my x relative had y type of cancer".

But it wasn't World Cancer Day, so no one gave a damn…except those who suffer.

According to yougov.uk, one in four university students suffer from some form of mental health problem, with female and LGBTQ+ students being the most heavily affected. That's not to say that male and heterosexual students aren't affected because they are.

According to the Guardian, there was a 210 per cent increase in students dropping out of university due to mental health struggles between 2009/10 and 2014/15 and in 2015/16, 87, 914 students requested counselling from their university compared to 68, 614 in 2-13/14.

Mental health isn't something to be taken lightly. It's not just "feeling sad" or "being a wuss". It's fear and crippling worry and constant struggle and forever having to fight an uphill battle against the stigma attached to this branch of illness.

You'd never tell a cancer patient to "get over it" or "take a walk, you'll feel better" or to "cheer up", so why do people think these are appropriate answers to mental health?

Perpetuating the stigma around mental health makes the problem worse as sufferers don't feel as though they can come forward and be taken seriously.

World Mental Health Day is an international effort to try to bring mental struggles into the public eye. It's not a stupid day, or a waste of time, or an inconvenience. It's a time to help those in need of help, to realise that a simple "how are you" or a hug can change someone's day.

Oh, and by the way, Mental Health Awareness Week is 7-13th May 2018. Put it in your diaries. Organise bake sales, run 5k races, wear a ribbon, or just ask a sufferer how they're doing and actually listen to them for once.

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University of St Andrews