It seems a little ironic that I didn’t realise this existed until half-way through today, and that was only because I came across it by chance whilst trying to find something else online.
There’s a pretty good short summary on the Time to Change website. Basically, it’s about being open about mental health; talk about it. There’s different ways to do this; writing this blog is the only bit I can realistically do. This blog exists, in part, for this very reason; to be open and share my experience in order to reduce the mental health stigma that still exists and hopefully provide some reassurance and helpful points to others in a similar position. I have had so much feedback (mostly privately) from people thanking me for writing about my experience because it makes them feel less isolated and alone. This has been the biggest motivator for me keeping going with the blog and developing the associated support groups and so on.
It’s late in the day now to talk about the other ideas that could have been used today. But, it pretty much relates to just chatting about mental health wherever you are in any context. Don’t shy away from it. Ask somebody how they are. Don’t change the subject if they say they are struggling. Have a chat; be supportive. It doesn’t need to be awkward. Treat it no differently to if they said they had broken their wrist. It’s illness; just like any other. It doesn’t need to be treated differently.
I say all this, yet it is still hard to accept and be open about what has happened to me. Hmm…apart from publicising it to the world! But, I am anonymous to most people on here. In ‘real life,’ I have found it really hard to even face people and look them in the eye again let alone talk about how I have been and how I am. I feel weak, pathetic and ashamed. But I shouldn’t – in theory. I have pushed myself to do it partly because there have been times I have had no choice, partly because I feel I must in order to make progress myself and partly to do my bit in normalising mental health problems.
Let’s try to make sure it is no longer a taboo subject and a diagnosis of stigma and discrimination. Today highlights the need to be more open and talk about it more. But, of course, this doesn’t just apply to today. If this is a new idea to you, use today as a starting point for the future to do your bit in this process.
‘Time to talk. Let’s end mental health discrimination.’