Let's Talk About Mental Health
Mental health is a passionate area for me. The stigma is so great that I have worked with many mental health professionals who will not even talk about their own battles with mental illness. It can affect us in an emotional way and it can affect us in a physical way. We may not be able to get out of bed, leave the house, behave in a way which is classed as being not socially 'normal', which creates social exclusion. It prevents people from eating healthily and looking after themselves properly. It can prevent people from wanting to pay the bills because it's too much of an effort and it's 'easier' to avoid these tasks.
For some people, it gets as difficult as not being able to shower or eat for days on end.
Sometimes people may take extra days off work but they are too afraid to talk to their boss about their difficulties due to the stigma surrounding mental illness. The media portrays mental illness as a person who hears voices holding a knife and chasing people around trying to get revenge from some unresolved wrong that was done to them or a close relative. This is simply not the case.
Here are some facts about mental illness:
People who hear voices often just want to keep to themselves and are probably more afraid of other people than you are of them.
People with depression can and do still live very successful lives and can be highly functioning and many people around them would never guess they are suffering.
The person who laughs the most at work may go home in the evening and not want to say a word to anyone in their household.
People with anxiety may laugh a lot and just seem a bit 'off' but on the inside they have fought so hard internally to even get to work or the social function you are attending.
These are just a few examples. The next time someone is short with you or keeps their head down, think to yourself 'I wonder what is going on in this person's life for them to be behaving in this way'. It is important to remember that every behaviour comes from somewhere. What is this person trying to achieve? Are they frightened? Are they anxious? Are they just having a terrible day? Always ask WHY. People with mental illness need your support and understanding, not your judgement.