Why talking is the key to breaking the stigma around mental health and mental illness, and helping people to get the help and support they need.
Across the world, thousands of people suffering from Mental Health conditions are deprived of their Human Rights.
Not only are they discriminated against, stigmatised and disregarded, they are also subject to emotional and physical abuse from both the community and Mental Health facilities. Every individual, no matter whether they have a mental illness or not should have the right to be treated with respect and dignity, but unfortunately this is not the case. We believe that dignity comes from both within and from outside. From people, the government, laws and the community. Here at The Recover Clinic, we promote the fact that mental health treatment requires social nurturing not isolation. We treat the whole person in an environment where our clients feel safe and secure. We help our clients realise that they know what is best for their treatment and recovery and that their feelings and choices are key in this process. We believe our approach symbolises dignity in mental health.
If you are suffering with poor mental health or mental illness, professional help and advice is vital.
Mental illness makes us feel ashamed and like you have to hide away but we are here to say #ITSOKAYTOTALK. Find the strength, be brave and ask for help. This can be as small as reaching out to someone online to tell them you are going through the same thing and beginning to support each other through kind words. It can be acknowledging to yourself out loud or in a journal how you are feeling and behaving. It can be that you resource yourself to understand more about trauma, the healing process and the support services available to you.
It is important that you do not self-diagnose or self-medicate as this can encourage further harmful coping mechanisms. One option is to go to the GP but most GPs aren’t trained intensively enough in mental illness or how they can affect anyone of any age/gender, so asking for a referral to the local mental health team is often more effective – this applies to eating disorders too. There are also free helplines available who are trained to give this sort of advice and may be more helpful in the first instance.
- Mind is a Mental Health charity in England and Wales
- Healthy Place – Mental Health support, resources and information
- The Recover Clinic – We provide expert care and advice for those suffering with trauma, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, anxiety, depression and personality disorders
- Beat – provides a range of support services for people affected by eating disorders
- Time to Change – a mental health campaign in England, with the objective of reducing mental health-related stigma and discrimination
Although it can be a difficult journey, making that first step is the most important one you will ever make. Getting an accurate diagnosis and the right treatment will help you on the road to recovery. The sooner you do it the better, as early intervention can reduce the severity and prevent escalation. Ask questions to ensure you have clarity as this will help you to feel more empowered.
There is no easy way of knowing whether someone has poor mental health or a mental illness as although there are certain symptoms which are common to mental illnesses, people may react and behave to these in different ways.
If you believe someone you know is displaying a change in behaviour or mood which you feel may be potential red flags of poor mental health/mental illness, the first thing to do is to approach them with your concerns. There’s a tendency to avoid bringing the issue up for fear of pushing the person away. Set time aside and talk to them about what is happening in their life and their feelings. Behaviours like self-harm are a coping strategy – a tool someone’s using because they don’t know how to cope with how they feel. Talk to them about what else is happening in their life and how they feel about it, rather than focusing entirely on the activity/behaviour itself. You do need to be sensitive and careful not to force the person to speak out until they are ready but instead, support them and remind them it’s okay to talk. Sometimes someone with poor mental health or a mental illness finds it difficult to speak to someone whom they are close to for fear of upsetting them.
You don’t want to wait for someone to be in a state of crisis before you do something. It’s also important how you frame the experience. You want to encourage the idea that you’re in this together against the illness rather than getting into a battle. Align yourself with the sufferer and get their input into what you can do. Ask what they would find helpful and make sure they see that you’re willing to show your support and work with them.
Whether it’s you or a loved one who has poor mental health/mental illness, it's important to keep communication open once the conversation around mental health/illness has started.
Establish a support network. if you are able to, keep talking to family and friends, attend for appointments/counselling or join a support group.
Know that relapsing is also common. You can’t control lapses or prevent them from happening but make sure the conversation is kept open and don’t get complacent. Often when people start to feel better, they think they don’t need to take as good care of themselves and they can hit the deck quite quickly. Dealing with poor mental health/mental illness is a process and recognition and awareness are key to helping someone/yourself along the road to recovery.
Remember, if you do suffer from poor mental health/mental illness, you are not to blame, you do not need to feel guilty and you are not alone – it’s okay to talk.
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Have you struggled with an eating disorder, body dysmorphia, mental illness or trauma?
We’d love to hear from you! Click here to email us about writing for our blog. Whether you want to share your story or an inspirational/motivational piece, you could help others who are experiencing similar thoughts, feelings and behaviour.