It’s October 10th. Take a moment and consider an issue many people face on a daily basis. There are millions of people around the world who suffer with some sort of mental health issue. In Britain the most common diagnosis is Depression and Anxiety mixed, as 7.8% of the population meet the criteria. I am not ashamed to admit I am in that statistic. I’ve suffered for years, but it was manageable until giving birth to my daughter.
How can you help?
Eliminating stigma is crucial. It’s 2017, gay marriage is legal, transgender people are proudly telling their stories, and we’ve come a long way as a society. Despite this, people still seem to feel awkward and uncomfortable about an issue that affects 1 in 4 of us.
Trying to understand. I will admit, it is very hard to try and get to grips with mental health. There are over 200 different kinds of mental illnesses, so it would be impossible to try and understand every one. However, remaining open minded and listening is always helpful.
Don’t say stupid stuff. The amount of times I’ve been told ‘its all in your head’…I realise this, but that’s the point, it is a chemical imbalance of the brain, hence the term ‘mental illness’. If somebody suffers with depression, believe it or not, but you don’t need to tell them there are people in the world worse off than them. If you’re happily married, rich and physically healthy it does not mean your mental health shouldn’t be taken seriously because you don’t fit ‘the criteria’. Depression doesn’t pick and choose its victims.
Educate yourself. This ties in with everything you can do to help. I would strongly suggest reading articles on actual mental health websites. They are very informative and give an insight of how stereotypes aren’t ever accurate. For example, when terrible newspapers report ‘Schizophrenic man kills’ just paints a very inaccurate picture. If I committed the same crime it wouldn’t say ‘anxious killer’. Papers like to use hard hitting headline with no thought of the influence they make.
So if you’re scrolling along facebook and see someone is down in the dumps, instead of assume they’re attention seeking, how about drop them a message? Ask how’re they doing, and find out if you can be of any assistance. Talk about it, explain how you feel and don’t be ashamed. There is nothing wrong with being mentally ill, people sympathise when you’ve broken a bone, it should be the same for illnesses you can’t see too.