Before I start the article, I wanted to explain what made me choose this particular image. It was the way it made me think about how our society very often only wants to display itself as happy, and we also only want to consume things that make us happy. When we’re out and about, interacting with people, we tend to only want them to see our happy side. There is this certain ‘face’ so to speak. The image reminds me to always remember to be empathetic and understanding. Don’t be afraid to be honest about your feelings when it’s important to. Things are not always what it seems. Someone may appear happy but feel empty inside. We can all learn to understand it, by giving an ear and seeing it from both sides.
I may get a bit personal in this post, but I feel that it’s such an important topic to talk about that I feel very strongly about. I was watching a video, which you can watch here, and the way Dani described depression was very accurate to how I felt back in high school. She also mentioned how mental illnesses are becoming more and more common. We need to question whether it’s because we live in such a fast paced society. In a previous job, I had a breakdown. It was over the phone and I could feel the force of negativity in the conversation quite heavily. I felt upset and could feel the tears on my face and my throat choking up. That memory made me realise how much people simply want you to earn money, and don’t care about your health. In saying that, it’s the harsh reality in most cases.
I want to mention this scenario, because that situation made me instantly feel that I lost my level of professionalism and that I was viewed as a weak person. I feel it is important to mention that I was mainly interacting with all men, and did not feel the need to mention that I have anxiety. In the video, Dani mentions that in Australia, men have the highest rates of suicide. It reminded me of why I didn’t want to tell them what I was going through something, and that it was affecting my work, because of the societal stigma and stereotype that: Mental illnesses are ‘weak’. I can’t express just how untrue that is. I could write about this topic and different scenarios from the past and present for pages, but I will just bring some main points that come to mind.
The problem with society is the constant connection of mental illnesses being connected to words such as: weak, strange, taboo, outsider, abnormal. As someone who is an introvert, a highly sensitive person and lives with anxiety, it’s easy for people to immediately judge who I might be as a person through common stereotypes. It’s this instant judgment and assumption of ones character, which is similar to the way mental illnesses are judged. We need to talk about it, so that we can help people. Silence when there is something important, won’t solve any problems. We can speak up about it. Mental illnesses are so stigmatised that they cause many people to feel ashamed, embarrassed or isolated. The word ‘mental’ seems to make many people think of the word ‘crazy’ instantly.
The more awareness we have of mental health, the more people can feel comfortable about speaking up and getting the help they need. From comresglobal.com it says: Women are also over-represented in the statistics on mental health in the UK, with one in four women seeking treatment for depression compared to one in ten men. Unfortunately, this cannot be taken to mean that men on the whole do not suffer much in terms of their mental health: the suicide rate is three times higher among men than it is among women, and it is the most common cause of death among men under the age of 35. As previously mentioned, the stigma around mental illnesses, causes many men to not admit that they have one, which can be dangerous. It is something that is invisible, so easy to hide yet very strongly felt.
Perhaps if we make more awareness of it, we can be more considerate and cater to those in the workplace and in our personal lives. Over working or long hours is also a common cause of having depression or anxiety. Talking about it can also possibly limit the amount of people who may self harm. One in every four people experiences mental health issues. This is far far more apparent than we can see. The more we talk about it, the more we can lessen the tension, stigma and stereotypes, help those in need, encourage people to speak up or seek help and open the truth and the facts about mental illnesses.