Several bloggers and friends have recently opened up to reveal how they’re struggling. I have nothing but respect for them in doing this; sharing something so personal can be incredibly difficult, and being brave enough to say how you’re feeling requires a lot of courage. Even more so when it’s something that could cause the people, friends and relationships around you to react in an unexpected way.
You see, there are still those out there who believe mental health isn’t something to be discussed. They incorrectly think the subject is threatening and uncomfortable. That those experiencing mental ill-health are weak or even worse, dangerous; a perception fuelled by media stories who portray them as violent perpetrators without much context. These people would prefer we didn’t talk about such problems in either private or public and kept them to ourselves.
It’s negative attitudes like this which mean too many of us are made to feel embarrassed because of a mental health issue. One in four individuals will be affected this year alone and it’s extremely sad that over half of them will say the associated isolation and shame is worse than the condition itself. The social stigma attached to mental ill-health and the discrimination experienced because of it can make the problem worse, and recovery from it even harder than it is already.
It’s 2018 and changing the way we all think about act about mental health is long overdue. Being open to the subject and talking about it frankly doesn’t have to be awkward or tense, and the associated stigma and exclusion will be a thing of the past once everybody realises this. Simply being there for a family member, friend or colleague can make a huge difference: your attitude towards mental health could change their life.
To the friends and bloggers who have shared their stories recently: thank you for being so open about what you’re experiencing. I just want to let you know I’m here for you and still see you as the person I’ve always known. If you need someone to talk to, a companion to simply listen or a friend to play a video game with, I can do that; I’ll do what I can to help. I can’t say I’ll know how to fix what you’re going through but I can be there with you through it.
And to those who are worried about someone in their lives: please don’t hesitate in reaching out to them. Go on, do it right now – don’t wait. Send them a private message and ask how they’re doing so they know you’re thinking of them and they have your support. We all need someone to look out for us sometimes and if your friend is going through a tough time, stepping in and showing you care could mean more to them than you realise.
It’s time for change. Together we’re stronger, and we can make a difference.
To join a growing movement of people changing how we all think and act about mental health problems, please visit the Time To Change website. You can also join in with the next Time To Talk Day on 07 February 2019.