Even though people are more aware of mental health and it’s becoming more and more talked about nowadays, there are still a lot of common misconceptions within the world about mental health conditions. These misconceptions not not only add to the stigma, but also prove that there is a lack of education within society which disables the correct support for those who are suffering. I believe with the opportunity to be able to continue talking freely about mental health, building peoples knowledge and understanding, reducing the stigma down will enable people to be supported.
Those who are suffering just want to know that you care, that you’re going to be there for them and you’re not going to give up on them not matter how tough things get. That’s all we want to hear. We do not want you to spout your opinion to use with various different medical advice throw in. If we wanted that, we would go seek professional help. Instead we just want someone to listen to us. To listen to what we want or help us to figure out what we need. We want you to be there for us. And the only way you can do that is by being educated, so here are 7 things I want people to know about mental health…
1. Recovery does not happen overnight – Recovering from a mental health illness can take days, weeks, months, years or even a lifetime. Some of us will be in recovery for the rest of our lives because that is just part of the illness. It might go away, but it will always still be there. It’s just how it is. We have accepted that. Please can you too. Of course it will be challenging and exhausting, you’ll feel just as fed up as we will, but it’s one big learning experience, with plenty of ups and downs, but isn’t that what life’s about? Nothing about recovering goes in a straight line. There are always obstacles to overcome. It takes time and patience. We need you to stick around through it all and give us the right time to get through it. We need your support and encouragement through it.
2. You don’t have to try solve things for us – We do not want you to take the responsibility of trying to fix everything for us. It’s not your battle to face. All we want is you to be there to listen to us. Even if you’re there just to talk things through with. We do not want you to act on our problems or take them into your own hands. A little helping hand is completely fine, but do not take over and try to solve it on your own accord. We sometimes, if not most of the time, need the time to just let things be. We do not need to be forced into things from you or ourselves. We need to just let it be and move on in our own time. Be kind and considerate of what we want rather than what you think we need. Be supportive instead and remain neutral.
3. Mental illnesses are more complex than you think – Not everyone’s mental illness is the same. We can suffer from the same type, but everyone’s experience will be entirely different. Education and knowledge will help to teach the basics, the next part will come from understanding the individual’s experience and needs. Listening to the stereotypes of particular illnesses and trying to force things onto people is the completely wrong move and just makes everything ten times worse for the sufferer and yourself. Remember that a mental illness is not a choice. The same way breaking your leg is not a choice. They are feelings of more than one thing and can affect people in many different ways.
4. People do not have to be afraid of those with a mental illness – The word ‘mental’ seems to have negative connotations to it and resembles a ‘crazy’ person. Whilst in some cases this can be true for those who are convicted of violent crimes, most of the people with mental health conditions aren’t actually violent at all. They are no more violent than any other individual within the world. The media has a tendency to portray all mentally ill people as insane or dangerous. Do not listen to them. This is not the truth. The media adds to the stigma and wants to add fear onto people. We’re not crazy.
5. Bad days do happen – Like any other illness out there, everyone has bad days. I’m sure you reading this right now even if you’re perfectly healthy, you will have had some form of bad day or time within your life. Everyone does. The thing with mental illnesses is that bad days can range in a form of intensities. They can be deliberating and complicated. It can be hard for the sufferer to remember what a good day feels like whilst they are in this negative bubble or even remember what it feels like to be better. They can feel increasingly suffocating, overwhelming and inescapable, so it’s a good idea to really up your support and care on days like this.
6. Everything isn’t what it seems – With a generation growing up on social media, it can be easy for us all to judge and presume everything is fine with a certain person based on the content they are uploading on their profile online. However it is more than likely it isn’t what it seems. Mental health sufferers are very good at not showing how they are feeling for a number of reasons. But it’s always important to remember that you believe them when they say something about how they feel, that the symptoms and feelings they are experiencing are real, they are not made up nor are they for attention either. Think about the strength it must take for them to get through each day. You really do not know what is hiding behind a smile, so take as much care and be mindful as possible. You never know.
7. We want to know you care more than anything – We need constant assurance. We need to know you care. We want you to ask us questions, like how we are feeling or what we might need. We want you to inform and build your knowledge as much as you can. This proves to us that you’re willing to help us and understand. You have the ability to impacts someone’s life by doing the right thing and showing the best support that you possibly can. We want to know we are loved and will have you there for us whenever we need you. Don’t take someones support system from them through bad education and adding to the stigma. Sometimes you’re all someone has. Do not give up on them.
What is something about mental health you wish people knew?