Mental health is a subject that has been kept in the dark for far too long. With one in four adults in the UK experiencing mental illness, this is not an area that affects a small percentage of people. For those who are not included in that statistic, there is a high chance that someone in their family or one of their friends has a mental health problem and needs some support.
Since the 1990s, the proportion of people with severe symptoms of common mental disorders has been steadily increasing, which is a huge concern, especially when you also consider how many people take their own lives as a consequence. There are around 6,000 suicides in the UK every year and three quarters of suicides are men.
Awareness campaigns have been more prominent and the recent suicides of well-known celebrities such as Robin Williams, Chester Bennington, Keith Flint, Alexander McQueen and Mike Thalassitis has added to the awareness of the issue. However, despite more celebrities using their social media influence to encourage people with mental health problems to seek help, the stats show that there is no decline in the epidemic.
What prevents people from talking about their mental health?
The biggest problem around discussing mental health is the stigma that is attached to it. People are afraid that they will be discriminated against and that people will see them differently. Part of the problem is ignorance, in terms of people not really understanding how mental health affects people or why. Education is needed to help support people and to help to break down the stigma.
The importance of talking about mental health
As highlighted by mentalhealth.org.uk, talking about your feelings is one of the best ways to handle mental health problems. Even if you are simply talking to a friend or family member, or someone at work, sharing the way that you are feeling can help you to cope better. The person that you confide in may be able to help you to work through certain issues that are contributing towards your mental health. People with mental health problems often find that just talking about how they feel helps them to feel like a weight has been lifted, even without any other solution
Talking to a friend or family member will help them to understand how you are feeling and they, in turn, will be able to support you better. For example, they may think that you prefer your own company when really it is anxiety that prevents you from spending time with them or opening up about how you feel. If you tell people what typically triggers you going through worse periods, they will know when it’s most important to look out for you and check you are okay.
By talking to your GP they will be able to offer a range of different types of support from therapies to medication. Not all support comes from a professional capacity, as people with mental health problems often feel more comfortable talking to friends, family or colleagues.
Many employers offer employee wellbeing packages that may include access to counselling, which works well for some people who prefer to speak to someone they don’t know.
There are also several charities that offer great support including telephone helplines, guidance and information and lots of other support channels. Charities in the UK include:
There are also many charities that support people with specific issues such as substance abuse, dealing with bereavement, eating disorders, panic attacks and many more.
The sooner that you start talking about your mental health, the sooner you will be able to work out what has the best results for you, as it is a different situation for everyone dealing with mental health problems. If you feel like you are struggling with your mental health, the first step is to talk about it, so speak to a friend to your nearest health clinic.