We all have mental health; the question is whether we have good or poor mental health? Unfortunately mental health STILL has a stigma attached to it which often stops us from getting the help and support that we need. If you broke your leg or had symptoms of diabetes, would you think twice about seeing your GP or going to A&E out of fear of being labelled as having ‘poor physical health’? No. Most likely you get the first available appointment so that you could have your symptoms looked at. Why is it then that there is still such overpowering stigma when people start displaying symptoms of poor mental health, such as not sleeping properly, feeling stressed, withdrawing from people, feeling more anxious and/or depressed than normal, experiencing panic attacks, not eating properly, or eating too much and the list can go on?
Seeing a Therapist or asking for help is often seen or perceived as being weak, or there is still the label of going ‘crazy’, or not being strong enough to cope. But what if the reality is is that you or your family and friends are not coping? The reality is is that all of us will experience something or many things that we find difficult to cope with because they are, just too overwhelming. In life we experience many ‘firsts’, the first time we go to nursery, Secondary School, University, boyfriend/girlfriend, job, bereavement, marriage, childbirth, heartbreak, accident, miscarriage…and the list goes on. You have never experienced any of those things before, so in reality they may feel a bit overwhelming. But some ‘firsts’ and a few coming together can be more overwhelming than others, which will have a negative affect on your mental health. It is OK to admit that, for yourself and for others. Admitting that we are not coping, or need some extra support is the first step to getting the help that you need, because as much as we might like to think and deceive ourselves that we have got everything sorted, the reality is is that there will inevitably be times in life when we will need some help and support. Just like the need to attend to a broken leg or symptoms of diabetes, if we do not look after our mental health and get support and treatment when we see it declining, unsurprisingly it will get worse.
It is Mental Health Awareness week this week. The Mental Health Foundation have just released their publication as to the findings of the state of the UK’s mental health. Unsurprisingly they found that only 13% of people report having high levels of good mental health, with 4 in 10 reporting experiencing depression and 25% experiencing panic attacks. With such high figures of poor mental health, the stigma has to stop so that we can get the support that we need.
The Mental Health Foundation’s publication is entitled ‘Surviving or Thriving’; it is possible to move from surviving (or barely surviving) to thriving IF we reach out and get support, as well as offer support to those who we see are struggling. We must start being compassionate to ourselves, and others because we ALL have mental health.