Five good reasons why people don’t talk about their mental health – Guest post by Carolyn

Wordle: Epidemic of mental ill-health

Carolyn from Take Five will be writing a guest post specifically for Day in the Life shortly, in the meantime she asked if I would share this post with you. Pleas hop over and check out her blog ‘Take Five‘ after you’ve finished reading.

You may have seen TV adverts recently to raise awareness of how we treat people dealing with mental ill-health. Here’s my take on the top five reasons why people don’t talk more freely about the issues involved.

Check out the Time for Change advert at the end.

Reason No 1: ‘Other people just don’t want to know’

Often there’s a kind of conspiracy of silence around someone experiencing a period of mental ill-health. People are worried about saying the wrong thing, so they don’t say anything, and the person concerned feels like no one wants to know.

Reason No 2: ‘Its like admitting you can’t cope’

Even though most people may really be sympathetic, there’s always someone who gives that most unhelpful of all advice  – just pull yourself together – however that might be disguised! The trouble is that when you’re experiencing mental ill-health, there’s that inner voice hammering away telling you the very same thing.

Reason No 3: ‘You’re less likely to get that promotion, job, insurance policy ….’

Its true! Sadly, such is the ignorance around mental ill-health that there really is discrimination out there. If you disclose even past experience of mental ill-health, research shows that you’re less likely to be employed than someone with a physical disability.

Reason No 4: ‘Losing touch with yourself’

Experiencing a period of mental ill-health can be devastating to someone’s self confidence. Coping mechanisms used before no longer seem to work, it feels as if you’re not even the same person.  Expressing this to other people, even to ourselves, can be really difficult. Apparently our most common responses to stress are to ‘do nothing, just live with it’, ‘eat comfort or junk food’ or‘spend time alone’  (Be Mindful stress survey) – all ways to actively worsen our mental wellbeing, not improve it.

Reason No 5: ‘People don’t know how to help’

Such is our reluctance to discuss the issues, even someone with a high level of mental wellbeing is unlikely to know what they do to maintain it. We act as if our mental health was somehow circumstantial and beyond our control. Imagine having a conversation about someone’s poor physical condition or illness, and having no idea what factors can improve our physical health. This isn’t about medical training, it’s about common knowledge. If someone is experiencing mental ill-health, everything really does feel out of control and people we know feel helpless too.

We’re all more than aware of the stereotypes and prejudice which surround mental ill-health. Who wants to identify with that? In fact it’s a wonder anyone talks about mental health at all!!!

So if you feel like being cheered up by what people are doing to talk out loud about mental health, do have a look at this ad – it’s guaranteed to make you laugh if you follow all the links …..


11 comments on “Five good reasons why people don’t talk about their mental health – Guest post by Carolyn

  1. Such an interesting post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We all just need to keep talking about mental health issues as much as possible, in as many different places as possible. This advertising campaign is really good I think. I posted on my blog about it earlier this month, and got a great reaction.

    • Thanks Charlie, yeah the Time to Change campaign is really good. I just hope people actually take it in and learn from it that having mental health problems doesn’t mean we are mad, bad, crazy or dangerous and therefore to be avoided – we are just people like everyone else, at the end of the day, we just have a few difficult things to deal with!

  2. LOVE this! Wonderful! Can’t wait until mental health, learning ‘dis’ abilities and all the invisible differences we have are embraced for the diverse views they bring to our world. We’re closer to that ideal than ever but still have a long way to go.

    • Yes indeed it is still such a long arduous road to travel before it becomes reality, but each day that we speak up and speak out brings us a step closer 🙂

  3. It’s a fine line between being true to ones own unique self and being “appropriate” enough for the main stream to accept you. Thanks for this light hearted approach!

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  5. No arguments here. Although, having suffered severe depression in my mid-20s very publicly, what I find now when things aren’t going well is people who were there to see it will say “Oh, you’re getting depressed again. You should go and see the doctor.” No, I’m not depressed. I’m sad. Don’t recommend the doc’s when sitting watching a DVD with me while we have a couple of beers will cheer me up. The help of those around you is almost always more important than professional help. It’s just whether they CAN help…

    • Good point Ed! I would add it’s not only whether they ‘CAN’ help but also whether they WANT to help…? I’m not really sure what ‘help’ the so-called professionals have to offer at all any more, cause I just seem to spend all my time having assessments (which don’t ‘do’ anything) and being on waiting lists – no ‘actual’ help or treatment seems to appear at all… chilling with friends can be far more uplifting than another wasted day in an appointment.

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