It’s a common misconception that suffering a mental health problem is a sign of weakness, when combating it takes real strength.
One of the cruelest aspects to depression or anxiety is you’re often made to feel you’re to blame, by tactless others, or by you; that isn’t true. I find it endlessly frustrating that despite it being fashionable for MPs and health professionals to express the need for things to change and for the stigma to end, in reality, we’re still at square one. The lack of resources available to people with mental health conditions is shocking; you often have to fight for help, and if you don’t, you fall by the wayside.
Anyone who doesn’t think the situation is this serious should take a look at the statistics.
· 1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem each year.
· 3 out of 4 people fear the reactions of friends and family on discussing their mental health.
· 9 out of 10 people suffering from mental health problems experience discrimination and stigma.
· In 2015, 75% of all suicides were male. In fact, it’s the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK.
· UK Mental health budgets were cut by 8.5% between 2011 and 2015.
· 2100 beds for mental health patients were lost in the last five years.
· In 1990, 416 million people suffered from depression or anxiety worldwide. 23 years later, this had risen to 615 million.
· David did a lot of Googling to source these facts.
Sometimes, all it takes is a friend or family member asking how you’re doing, to take the sting off. They don’t have to provide answers, so much as an empathetic ear. You don’t even necessarily have to bring the subject of that person’s mental health up; distraction can also help. But try not to criticize; it’s likely the person suffering lives in a constant state of self-criticism as it is, Be mindful: a judgemental word is more likely to stick to a depressed person than a kind one.
I don’t know why there’s such a distinction between mental and physical health anyway; the last time I checked, my brain was part of my body; I did a lobotomy on myself to be certain.