As someone who holds this issue close to my heart I have seen the ins and outs of every different reaction to mental illness you can imagine, the good and the bad.
"We all do that," in relation to my obsessive panics about germs or "we all get a bit down sometimes" in relation to my suicidal tendencies.
For one thing these kinds of responses are belittling to anyone suffering from a severe mental illness. More to the point though, with mental health issues rising rapidly in the UK it is estimated that 1 in 4 adults are suffering from a mental illness each year. So it seems we really do all get a bit down sometimes, but is that a reason to ignore it?
Having been through a suicide attempt when I was 15, had a self-harming addiction since age 13, and cripplingly severe OCD since age 16 I know what it's like to face these challenges every day. But I also know how much worse it can be living with it all on your own.
Because of the stigma attached to mental illness, I felt pressured to keep up with the rest of my life as if nothing was wrong, telling myself I was being "attention-seeking" or that I "didn't really mean it". The truth is suicidal thoughts are out of your control and need to be taken seriously - they only have to win the battle once to win.
But social stigma is not the only problem that needs to be flagged up in the media. It may be becoming easier and easier to talk about mental health, but it is becoming harder and harder to get treatment.
I experienced first hand how the NHS is struggling to provide treatment when I made plans to end my life last November but was convinced by a friend to go to A&E. I was discharged almost immediately the next morning after being asked if I could keep myself safe as many times as it took me to gage that "yes" was the only acceptable answer. It has been two months and I still have to wait another month until I can be assessed for therapy.
Had I not been one of the lucky few with access to private health care in a desperate situation, it's highly likely that in those three months I would have lost my life or done damage to my physical health.
The sad thing is that I am one of the lucky ones. I was abused as a child, I suffer from two clinically recognised illnesses, and I can't remember the last time I spent a solid month without being in so much pain I felt like life wasn't worth it. And I feel lucky.
Mental health treatment should not be a luxury, it should be the norm.Suggest a correction