Yesterday was World Mental Health Day.
As a result, I've seen some pretty marvelous things around the internet talking about various mental health related issues. With things like the recent media storm over the "mental patient" costume at Asda , it's pretty clear to me that there are still a hell of a lot of issues still existing around mental health and perceptions of people with mental health problems. Of course, I've written about "Pride and Prejudice and Mental Health" before, and given that that wasn't that long ago, it isn't difficult to think that things aren't that different now than they were then, but one can always hope. It's too easy to belittle or make fun of mental health conditions- as I said then, it's not funny, and it's not appropriate.
But first, here's a round up of some of the amazing posts I've seen about mental health recently. It's amazing that a lot of bloggers talk about their issues with anxiety, but these posts deal with slightly different things.
Firstly, these posts about what it's like to have an eating disorder are exceptional. I'm actually really shocked at the treatment this girl received- how is trying to make someone feel guilty ever going to help someone with a mental illness? It's certainly not something you'd do to someone with a physical illness.
This post was shared by Stephen Fry on Twitter yesterday. So much of this post basically describes how I felt when I was brought home from Oxford Brookes. Mum would leave for work in the morning and come home to find me in more or less the exact same position on the sofa. I just felt empty, and emotionless. If you haven't experienced it, it's probably hard to imagine, but this post would give you a pretty good idea.
Hannah also posted about World Mental Health Day. Her post is so brilliant, and I think it's worth remembering the fact that as she emphasises, this could be anyone. And she's right when she says that these things aren't always blogged about enough- we have a great platform here to talk about stuff, and I think it's important to make good use of this sometimes.
I also found some pretty interesting statistics on Mind's website. To sum up, around 300 people out of 1,000 will experience mental health problems every year in Britain. That is not a small number. Of these, 230 of these will visit a GP, and 102 of these will be diagnosed as having a mental health problem. 24 of these will be referred to a specialist psychiatric service, and 6 will become inpatients in psychiatric hospitals. Interesting, eh?
With my mental health, currently I'm in a pretty good place. I had a very very stressful few weeks at work recently where I had to be very careful not to take it out on myself, and to be completely honest had to use very old self-harm avoidance tactics to keep calm. But generally speaking, I'm doing well, as I have been for the last little while now. Coming off the Pill has also made a massive difference to how I feel on a day to day basis, and I learnt that messing with my hormones isn't going to help my emotions or mental state at all- it was making me feel similar to how I felt when I was on my year out, and I didn't want to start down that path again, regardless of the cause.
As far as my own experience of people's perceptions about mental health are concerned, not long ago I had a very interesting conversation with a colleague who noticed my scars and admitted that they have self harmed too. I would never have realised, and it was great to talk about it at work and not feel afraid of the reaction. I also had a date who freaked out a bit about the scars. So some you win, some you lose, but I wish it wasn't like that.
Mental health problems can affect anyone. It's really important though that if you feel like you're struggling to talk to someone. I so wish I had actually really spoken about what was going on when I was really suffering, and if anyone feels the need to talk, please feel free to get in touch, I'm more than happy to lend an ear (or an eye, as chances are it'll be an email...).
I hope that by World Mental Health Day next year, things will have changed as far as perceptions of mental health is concerned. I don't think it will, but we can live in hope, can't we?