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#TimeToTalk Day 2017

February 2nd 2017 is #TimeToTalk Day, campaigned by mental health organisation Time To Change. The aim of this day is to encourage people to start a conversation about mental health and keep the conversation going round the clock.




Rather than creating a post entirely about my opinions on how important talking about mental health is, I sent out a survey for my followers and friends to fill in so I could get some real, legitimate feedback.

When asked if they thought people with mental illnesses still face stigma, here are some responses I had:

'People like to tip toe around people with mental illnesses in general and it shouldn't be that way, as it causes people to have a lack of understanding and thus push it under the rug and invalidate it.'

'People think it's easy to make yourself 'feel better' and don't realise that sometimes you just can't, no matter how hard you try.'

'Definitely. When we try to take days off or genuinely can't do something because our brains won't let us, we're turned against like it isn't a real illness. People also underestimate you, as though it stops you from being reliable.'

'Yes, through ignorance, although I do believe this is getting better.'

I agree with every statement that I received - there is still so much stigma surrounding those who identify themselves as having mental health problems. I'm glad some people think that the situation is getting better, but we still have a lot of work to do.

I asked for examples of positive experiences of talking about mental health. I received some wonderful responses:

'Yes, from many people. My friends and boyfriend have been very supportive, even when they don't understand.'

'I've had great sympathy at times and it has helped me know who to turn to in times of need.'

'I have some friends who are very open minded and a few who even suffer from depression and anxiety like myself.'

100% of my respondents said they found talking to friends or someone they trust was helpful to them when it came to discussing their mental health. 75% also felt comfortable with telling their GP or doctor, which was so wonderful to hear despite the bad experience I had with mine. I think it's very important to seek medical advice if you think your mental health is being affected by anything.

Unfortunately, it's much easier to tell someone to talk about mental health than it is for them to do it. Despite the positive experiences I read about, there have been some negative responses when people have attempted to speak up about their mental health struggles:

'I always get told that it's all in my head.'

'I get made to feel invalidated and even as if I'm faking my mental illnesses ... this causes me to suffer in silence.'

'Most of my family don't believe depression exists, so call me an attention seeker.'

'It is rarely taken seriously, especially when you are younger.'

'I've been told I ruin things like family gatherings, because I have to pretend to be happy, or holidays because of my scars.'

Although this isn't the case for everyone (luckily), it's so heartbreaking to read about the negativity some people face for an illness (or illnesses) they don't choose to have. Responses like this show the absolute need for proper education about all aspects of mental health. How can someone in 2017 still believe depression isn't real?!

I find blogging to be very cathartic when it comes to my mental health. I am not solely a mental health blog, but it's a big focus for me and I am totally supportive of people who feel comfortable enough to put their stories out there.

A vast majority of the respondents of my survey said they found reading about other people's mental health experiences online useful in their own lives. They said it 'makes me feel less different' and 'it's important to share experiences to remove stigma and normalise mental illness'. This makes me happy and is what will push me to continue blogging about my experiences.

What I will say is that although it's not easy - it's never easy - to talk about the things going on in your head, it's one of the most important things you'll do in your life. It might not be to a doctor; it might be a case of just telling a friend, parent, teacher... Anyone who will listen and understand. I can't tell you what a difference it makes just for someone to tell you they understand and that they will support you.

Time and time again I preach about having a good support network. If I didn't have the network of friends that I have now, I have no idea what kind of position I'd be in. That's the honest truth. I had no luck with doctors or counsellors or medicine. I get by with my own sheer willpower, mental strength and the support of the people I keep close.

I challenge you on this #TimeToTalk Day to talk to someone about mental health. It doesn't have to be about your own - use this day to educate, vocalise and normalise. Start a discussion and keep that conversation going even past this day. The only way to end the stigma is to integrate mental illness as a normal part of society.

1 in 4 people will suffer with a mental illness at some point in their lives. It's commonplace. Is this statistic not enough for the world to take mental health as seriously as they take physical health?

A massive thanks to everyone who took part in the survey!

Matt
Kirsty
Megan

And of course thank you to everyone who chose to remain anonymous during the survey. You have enlightened me and hopefully everyone reading this with your responses.


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1 comment

  1. Love your blog babe, it's great that you tackle these issues head on. They need to be talked about, not kept quiet. Keep up the good work.

    P.S. tried to add you on snap but it's still pending! Xx

    ReplyDelete

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