Is Society Getting Closer To A Time Where Stigma For Mental Health Issues Will No Longer Be A 'Thing'?

11/10/2016 15:11

Having had major anxiety and anger issues in my early teens, (enough to warrant seeing a top of their field educational psychologist for my county for several months) I, along with other previous or current sufferers, consider the 10th October as being a very important day.

It's World Mental Health Day.

Just think, years ago, people didn't even speak about mental health issues and people suffering were hidden away in homes for all sorts of serious and not so serious reasons. Some were hidden away for abhorrent reasons, more due to society's beliefs rather than the individual in question actually having a real problem themselves.

The significance of that fact struck me when I was recently reading about another celebrity talking about their current issues with anxiety and panic attacks. My heart ached for them, as I've been there and know how crippling it can be. On the scale of mental health issues, that may be judged by some as being on the lighter scale of severity, as 'Mental Health' is an umbrella that encompasses so many different types of affliction and disability. However, the fact that celebrity was brave and chose to speak out about it made me question whether we as a society are getting closer to a time where stigma for mental health issues will no longer be a 'thing'?

It's still not something that we shout from the rooftops, yet, is that because people are ashamed or is it because they are wanting to keep personal suffering private? It is a choice after all, not to talk about it.

On the whole, society judges harshly and it's very hard to not be frightened of it happening to you. You need to be made of strong stuff to tune out other people's opinions and not be affected by it and go your own path. Live your own truth. But why do we judge others at all?

We can't help it. Nature has made us that way. Read any psychology study book and there will be chapters about the type of judgements we make, why we make them and how our brain even does these process. Scientific studies back those processes up. There is no getting away from judgement, or making judgements on others. But you can choose to be kinder to those suffering. You can choose to support your fellow man. You can choose not to say anything if you can't say anything nice.

Put yourself in their shoes. Try. And if you can't imagine it, then try this; Imagine your worst day. Imagine your worst nightmare. What kind of awful feelings does it bring to mind?

Imagine you are late for something you really care about. That panic feeling or dread you may feel? That is what it's like for someone too afraid to speak about what they are going through. No one should feel like that. Ever. So we need to figure out a way that people can talk about their mental health issues so that they can get help and recover and it not be a 'thing.'

That's right. I said recover, because a vast majority of mental health issues are short term and can be treated to full recovery, whilst many more can be treated, getting the individual to a point where they are managing and coping better. That makes me smile. That should be what we are aiming for.

I personally think we are getting there. It's a slow journey. This is something we need to get a handle on though, with the latest statistic being that 1 in 4 people will suffer with a mental health problem each year.

That statistic should ring alarm bells people! A quarter of the people you know could be suffering right now.

So do what you can, when you can for those that want to talk. Sometimes being there for someone is easier than you know.