Breaking The Stigma Around Mental Health

Let’s talk. Let’s talk about mental health.

The stigma that surrounds the topic of mental health has all of us believing that it isn’t a real or treatable health condition. When in actual fact it is, and in time it can too become manageable.

Mental illness isn’t new. Mental illness isn’t a fashionable trend that people decide to have. Mental illness has been around for many and I mean MANY years. But it’s only begun to be treated seriously in the more recent years.

Mental health issues are nothing to be ashamed of. No, they don’t define you as a person, but if you currently are experiencing something, it’s very real to you and it doesn’t make you weird or anything else that your brain decides to come up with.

It’s okay to take a sick day off work or school or anything that you had planned that day. If this was a physical illness, you wouldn’t think twice, if you were in pain because of a broken bone, you wouldn’t beat yourself up about it, you’d accept it.

Taking a mental health day off does not, I repeat, not make you a wuss or weak or less of a being. It is okay.

One thing that’s important to note is that, unfortunately not everyone has a lot of knowledge on mental health and so makes up their own assumptions and ideas of what it is. So, my advice would be to ignore comments such as ‘what have you got to be sad about?’ or ‘other people have it worse than you’. Some people don’t say these things with the intention of hurting you, it’s simply a misunderstanding of mental health itself. This is important to remember.

Being open to your friends, family or colleagues in the work place isn’t attention seeking, you never have to feel ashamed about what you’re going through. This is what’s currently going on in your life and you deserve to be supported during this time. Sometimes letting just one person know can be a huge relief and feel like a weight has been lifted. If you want to let anyone know about what you’re going through, you’re entitled to, it is NOT attention seeking.

Men, just like women also suffer from mental illnesses, and this idea that they need to man-up really needs to stop. Men are allowed to be open and seek help just like women. It seems that men are expected to suck it up and keep going. No. Don’t suck it up. Don’t man up. Don’t deal with this on your own. Seek help. Being on medication doesn’t make you weak, it’s brave and important to seek help.

Self-care is important for men too. Self-care isn’t all about painting your nails and doing face masks. Self-care is taking some time to look after yourself and do anything that you find relaxing and calming.

Sometimes it’s hard to fully understand and explain what’s going on in our minds, and it can help to talk or even join forums that discuss different issues online. I’ve recently come across an app called ‘Wisdo’ which is an app where you can seek or give advice on all kinds of things including mental health. Or you can read through what people have said on those topics. I’d definitely recommend it or anything similar.

I found this little fact out today whilst preparing for this post, 1 out of every 4 people suffer from a mental illness. If you ever feel alone, please remember that. A lot of people prefer to keep it hidden and make a good job of doing so.

I also found this quote that I thought was highly relevant – ‘We are so accepting of any body part breaking down other than our brain’. It’s time to stop feeling ashamed or embarrassed of ourselves for our mental illnesses. They aren’t who we are, just like having a broken leg doesn’t define you as a broken leg (does that make sense?!).

I want to stress the importance that being mentally unwell doesn’t make you crazy. Like I said above, many more people than you realise, suffer with mental health issues, and I mean that in a reassurance way.

Having a mental illness changes your life and yourself completely. What’s important is to slowly adapt and adjust and learn what it is that we need to help us manage the illness, which sometimes can’t be done no matter what you do. Sometimes it’s really hard and sometimes it can feel manageable and easier to cope with. It’s an up and down journey. Some days are hard and some days are good. Sometimes it’s hard and sometimes it’s not and that is okay. It is all okay.

Sometimes we simply can’t explain what’s going on in our heads, just like if someone questioned why our broken leg was hurting we wouldn’t necessarily have a straight answer. But the difference is we don’t get questioned on the latter. If you can’t explain, that’s okay. You don’t have to ever justify what you’re going through to anyone.

I’d like to do a few more posts on this topic because I think it really is very important. Like I’ve said before I’m always happy to talk if you want to talk. I am in no way a professional but I can offer an ear to listen (or rather an eye to read and respond) if you ever want to talk, which would also remain confidential.

Hope this has made sense and helped.

Ciao for now x

Posted by

Wellbeing writer, host for The Inspired Narrative podcast and mental health support worker.