In the week we mark World Mental Health Day, calling on everyone to strive for greater understanding for those living with a mental health condition, Anxiety UK has been struck by examples on either side of the fence. The charity, which supports thousands of people affected by anxiety each year, is calling on those in an influential position to respect those with mental health needs and appeals for empathy and support for those who are going through a difficult time.
“In recent years, there have been some strides made towards mental health understanding,” explains Anxiety UK CEO, Nicky Lidbetter. “But two high profile instances have clearly shown how much further we have to go, with examples such as Miley Cyrus’ recent Tweets mocking Sinead O’Conner’s struggles with mental illness to The Sun’s sensationalist story and headline about ‘mental patients.’ It seems that even in 2013 mental health is seen as something acceptable to joke about or, even more worryingly, to sensationalise and stigmatise in order to sell papers. People in a position of influence have a duty to act responsibly and in accordance with legislation when they speak about or report on mental health. Anything less is just unacceptable.’
And while examples of how not to address mental health are all too many, the likes of Everton Manager Roberto Martinez’s support of The Mirror’s campaign to support those with mental health disorders, is to be applauded.
Mental health difficulties are not trivial problems; they affect 1 in 5 people. And with the right help, they can be managed, allowing the person to live a fulfilled life. As World Mental Health Day nears on October 10th, Anxiety UK is appealing for everyone, not just those with over a million followers on Twitter or those selling thousands of newspapers a day, to understand the importance of supporting those with mental illness so they can receive the help they so desperately need.