In current times mental health discussion has become less controversial. More people are becoming mental health advocates and using social media platform to support others through the process of getting better. We see many influencers using this platform to advocate mental health awareness, such as Stephen Fry, the President of Mind. Yet, with all these advances, why is there still an overwhelming amount of stigma against mental health?
This topic is sensitive to many, whether it is a personal experience or knowing someone who suffers from mental health. From the World Health Organisation (WHO) the number of people with anxiety and depression has increased to 615 million in 2013. On September 2018, the third United Nations General Assembly high-level meeting on noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) labelled mental illness as the fifth NCD alongside cancer and diabetes. WHO’s report summarises that depression and anxiety disorder were among the top five causes in the illness with conditions developing from 10-19-year olds. Unfortunately, with the rise of mental illness comes the rise of suicide rates, in 2015 there were over 4000 deaths among the adolescence range, and more notably in boys.
Where do the stigma's come from?
Stigma's can be rooted in deliberate hurtful actions, but is also rooted in ignorance. With ignorance, many people are unaware of the damage they can do to others and themselves, with common sayings of ‘you are just sad, get over it.’ In addition, in the younger generation jokes about mental health are increasing, which has an adverse effect. Many young adults and teenagers will laugh it off and reason with themselves that moments of anxiety or depression are normal and everyone has them, thus, not seek help which would be detrimental in the long term.
This is a difficult discussion with many emotional triggers, but it is one we can face together, together we can educate the public, we can stop the spread of stigmatism and we can support those in need of a helping hand to start the ladder of wellness.
Stigmatism can take many forms and I think we should all look in ourselves and think how much mental illness affects us. As current healthcare professionals and healthcare students, it is our duty to educate and help the public improve their health, but we must not also forget to look after ourselves. For me there are personal reason why I chose to write this article, as a healthcare student I believed that it was hypocritical that I am learning how to improve the health of others whilst I have mental health issues, but with support I have come to accept it and with support I am making changes to improve and raise awareness.
In regards on raising awareness, the Western Area of BPSA are holding a public campaign to give advice on how to handle personal mental health and how to help others going through mental illness. The objective is to reduce the stigma around mental health by educating others. The other aim is to help those in silence to feel supported and accepted. By spreading more awareness in campaigns together we can help boost people up the ladder of wellness summarised by “Know Silence, No Stigma.”
“Never give up on people with an illness. When ‘I’ is replaced with ‘we’, illness becomes wellness”
- Shannon L. Alder
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