Fizzy drinks make you depressed, the #cutforbieber trend, suicides and homocides. We've seen a lot in the news recently relating back to mental health; none of it good. It's as if we are being told that the only time a mental health disorder matters is when someone with an illness goes to a school and puts many lives in danger, before turning the gun on themselves. Or that the only mental health disorder a young person will face will be self harm over a glorified pop star. So when it all goes quiet we feel safe in the knowledge that all those 'mentals' are resting at home, not making a peep.
What people may not realise is that every single day someone like Amanda Todd or Jacintha Saldanha will end their life. Every single day millions of people struggle with some kind of mental health disorder; from Alzheimer's to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. What about these people that actually make something of themselves? Where's the news about these strong and impressive human beings?
We're not all like that; I hasten to add. In fact, over the past few weeks I have heard some incredible stories about people doing some truly inspirational stuff. Soldiers that battle on with PTSD or a girl with agoraphobia that has travelled the world in a boat. So, here is my open letter to the press, media and anyone else that wants to sit up and take note...
Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jpovey/4872735031/
Dear World Press,
We are fed up with your constant negativity surrounding mental health issues. You paint every single one of us in a bad light by focusing on all the work shy, homocidial maniacs and liars that seem to grace your headlines every day. In fact, if we do hear anything positive it is likely to be a story about some 'celebrity' who is trying to make it back into our hearts because of a brand new live tour (cough Adam Ant).
When you focus on the negatives, you make us seem like bad people. You make it seem as though the only way WE can get attention is by doing something drastic. Hell, I've considered tying myself to a tree if only I could make it out of the door far enough to get to a tree. Do I need to do something terrible for you to sit up and take notice? Or will you begin to focus on all of the positives that happen every single day? The soldier, that despite his PTSD, has been awarded a medal of honour for saving his best friend from a bomb blast. Or the lady that triumphed over adversity by sailing the world in a boat - despite having severe agoraphobia.
Mental health is a topic that gets shunned on a daily basis. It's a common assumption that most of these disorders are made up, fabricated by the work shy and lazy. With the statistics showing that one in four people will experience some kind of mental health disorder in their life, does that mean that we are all lazy? Making it up for a bit of 'attention'? The simple reason that the topic is shunned is that people do not understand. And why do they not understand? Because the news focuses on the negative stories that tell of people cheating incapacity benefits or making up an illness to get off work.
I have spent since the beginning of 2013 writing personal letters, e-mails and calling every single one of you about these inspirational stories. About a project that is set to change the way people think about mental health issues, opening their minds and stopping the constant stigma surrounding this problem. Have you listened? No. In fact, one of you (you know who you are) asked me if there was anyone that had committed suicide that we could relate back to the project?
It's sick and we are fed up. You control the minds of this world and if you won't do anything then who will?
I'd like to add a side note to this article in case those in the press or media who deal with these issues in the right way find that I am generalising. I know that there are a few of you that do understand the need for a positive message which you try to portray, so thank you.
Follow Rebecca Walton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/xebnotlaw