People are today being encourage to spend five minutes talking about mental health as part of the second annual Time to Talk Day.
‘Time to Talk’ day is a campaign which aims to tackle the stigma, challenge attitudes and change behaviours around mental illness. ‘Time to Change’ is the programme which is led by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental illness. It is suggested that if more of us speak up about mental health, and share our experiences, the judgemental attitudes will disappear. It’s like lots of things, the more you talk about or become exposed to something, the more ‘normalised’ it becomes.
Mind states that since 2011, two million people are said to have a more positive view of mental illness, and now, here in the UK, we are living in a society where people are talking more about mental health than ever before. Statistics currently indicate that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in the course of a year, the most common being anxiety and depression, woman are more likely to receive treatment for a mental health problem than men (which doesn’t necessarily mean women suffer the most, but men try to deal with it on their own).
From my experience I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression, body image disorder (although I’m pretty sure this is more of a symptom of depression) anxiety, and social anxiety (shyest person EVER). I’m not ashamed to admit it, why should I be? If I had a broken leg, I wouldn’t be ashamed to use crutches for support, or if I had an ear infection, I wouldn’t be ashamed to tell anyone. Anxiety, Depression etc are illnesses for which we need treatment and support, just you can’t see them, and the effects of hiding them away and coping alone only fuel the condition. Talking is like releasing pressure, or letting off steam. I find it hard to understand why so many of us choose to suffer in silence with something so common.
Short term solutions to mental illness, antidepressants, are exactly that, short term. The long term solution which we need to recognise and use more, is to open up and talk about it.
The NHS now provide’ Health and Wellbeing’ services. Short courses ran by the Adult Learning Alliance and psychological services such as ‘Managing your Mood’, ‘Stress Control’, ‘Confidence building’, ‘Relaxation Techniques’ and ‘Assert yourself’. I enrolled on a couple last year as I was interested to see what I could learn and gain from them. I was hesitant in attending at first as I felt like everyone would think I was there because I was a failure, or unable to cope. I met people from all different backgrounds. people who were struggling with the pressure at work and just needed tips on how to wind down, some people whose confidence had taken a recent knock and they just needed a little bit of guidance to get back on track, and one lady felt unable to say ‘no’ to her boss when she would put piles of paperwork on her desk right on home time and ask her to stay behind. It felt pretty liberating to be in a room full of other people who were in need of a little support, as mental illness often can be extremely isolating.
We are always in the path of little things cropping up, small issues, or problems, which we often allow to build up and become more of a bigger problem. I often see friends on Facebook, about to have a ‘rant’, or a ‘moan’, but you can see they have reigned in their thoughts, or apologised for expressing how they feel. Don’t hold back. Let off steam, have that chat with a friend, family member or just anyone who might offer. Don’t apologise for showing your emotions or vulnerability. By doing that we are just reinforcing the taboo and stigma of mental health.
And on a lighter note, it’s also National Nutella Day too