Supported by all of the major institutions around the globe, World Mental Health day takes places annually on October 10th and is an ideal platform to help raise awareness of mental health issues. This year’s theme will focus on mental health and older adults but we all now that mental health can affect us all and knows no boundaries when it comes to age.
Professionals, charities and other organisations around the country will use the opportunity to raise awareness and tackle the stigma so often associated with mental ill health.
It is now widely accepted that one in five of us will experience some form of mental health disorder at some point in our lives. From common mild to moderate anxiety, stress, depression or more complex conditions such as bi-polar or schizophrenia, we have probably all come into contact with a friend or family member who has experienced some form of mental health problem.
However, the problem may potentially be far greater with many people embarrassed to speak about their problems and how their family/friends will respond or worried about their job security or prospects should they open up about their mental health.
The Time to Change campaign is an ambitious programme aimed at ending the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health problems. But a recent survey by the organisation shows just how hard a subject it can be for even family members to discuss, revealing that mental health is still a topic off limits around the dinner table. Nearly one in five parents feel awkward discussing it with their child as they don’t want to scare them – despite it affecting one in four of us in any given year and one in ten children.
And in an independent evaluation of the work of Time to Change earlier this year the results showed a positive trend in reducing that stigma among friends and family.
There is also evidence that big business can behave insensitively when it comes to addressing concerns about mental ill health and the stereotyping of those who experience it. Both Tesco and Asda were heavily criticised when it came to light that both were selling and promoting Halloween fancy dress costumes that were described by Anxiety UK as “stupid, crass and insensitive.” The products were quickly removed from sale, apologies duly made and Asda made a sizeable donation to the charity MIND.
Nicky Lidbetter, CEO of Anxiety UK, said: “This has undone several years of hard work by mental health professionals, charities and individuals and to reduce the stigma attached to mental ill health. This is exactly why the Time to Change campaign was launched to address these kind of ignorant stereotypes but clearly there is still much work to do.
“Withdrawing the products, issuing an apology and making a donation to MIND should only be the start of putting right these mistakes.’
Given that background is it any wonder so many people still find it hard to open up and seek help for their anxiety, stress or similar mental health problems?
Thankfully there are a lot of organisations that can help and will treat everyone who contacts them sympathetically and with confidentiality. We recognise how difficult it can be for someone to pick up that phone and make that call to get help. We are a user-led organisation, run by sufferers and ex-sufferers of anxiety disorders, supported by a high-profile medical advisory panel.
We work to relieve and support those living with anxiety disorders by providing information, support and understanding via an extensive range of services, including 1:1 therapy. We work regularly with external agencies and healthcare professionals to improve services for those living with anxiety disorders and campaign to raise awareness of anxiety disorders.
If you or someone you care about are struggling with anxiety or stress, take inspiration from World Mental Health Day and reach out for help. Our helpline is staffed by volunteers with lived experience of anxiety. Sometimes, just speaking to someone who understands can help. And if you are ready to find a way to manage your anxiety long term, membership could be for you. Click here to find out more.
Helpline: 08444 775 774
Email support: firstname.lastname@example.org