We all have mental health. Just like our physical health, both need to be looked after.
However, when people experience mental health problems they become affected by the stigma that is associated. They experience this in a way that someone with a physical problem, such as cancer or diabetes, would not.
Despite the fact that we know that mental health problems currently affect one in four of the UK population, many people who are experiencing mental health issues don’t get help. This is because they fear people will judge them. Many believe they will lose their sense of self, be judged and seen only as a label or a diagnosis.
For many people living with mental health problems, their fears continue to become true.
Talk to anyone who has experienced mental health problems and they will tell you that one of the worst parts about having a mental health issue is the stigma and consequent social exclusion attached to them. People feel embarrassed, ashamed and believe that people will think less of them.
People living with these problems often believe they will lose friends, jobs, income and be perceived as dangerous or unstable.
Media representations in television programmes, films and newspaper stories can reinforce negative stereotypes by routinely linking mental health issues to violence and criminality.
2017 is the year this needs to change.
Being open to mental health is one of the biggest challenges we need to overcome. We need to reevaluate our attitudes, our beliefs and our behaviour towards those who experience mental health problems.
Today (February 2) is national Time to Talk Day – an annual event supported by a growing social movement led by charities Mind and Rethink, as part of the Time to Change campaign, which aims to change how we think and act about mental health.
This is important because challenging inequality and recognising the impact of stigma will have a huge impact on the care that you or someone close to you may receive.
Here are some common misconceptions about mental health problems that the Time to Talk 2017 campaign aims to stop and replace with facts.
- Myth: Mental health problems are very rare.
- Fact: 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year.
- Myth: People with mental health problems aren’t able to work.
- Fact: We probably all work with someone experiencing a mental health problem.
- Myth: Young people just go through ups and downs as part of puberty, it’s nothing.
- Fact: 1 in 10 young people will experience a mental health problem.
- Myth: People with mental health problems are usually violent and unpredictable.
- Fact: People with a mental health problems are more likely to be a victim of violence.
- Myth: People with mental health problems don’t experience discrimination
- Fact: 9 out of 10 people with mental health problems experience stigma and discrimination.