Since starting a mental health blog, I’ve talked to and met a vast amount of people with varying degrees of mental illness, and a whole different range – some of which I have a lot of knowledge and a few I was completely uneducated on. This journey within the mental health community has really been eye opening, especially as my previous knowledge was limited to books, people I knew, or things I’d experienced myself – within the mental health service or on a more personal level. Here are a few things I’ve learnt in the past few months…
1. There are two types of people with mental illness, no matter how serious their condition:
- Those who want to be helped
- Those who want to wallow
The latter isn’t ‘worse’ than the former, they just need some time to figure things out and decide that maybe spreading positivity is a better idea on the internet, than allowing things to manifest virtually. We all have down days, but when your down days turn into every single day it can really bring others around you down too – having a negative effect on an otherwise very positive community.
2. Mental illness can affect anyone, anywhere, at any time.
This one I kind of knew already, but the amount of people I’ve met in these past six months that suffer from one mental illness or another is more than I imagined. No matter what age, what gender, walk of life, nationality, anything, it can affect anyone. It can literally happen at any time too, whether it started when you were a child, or simply catching you whilst you were doing your family food shop in your 30s. It’s amazing how many people openly talk about it now, despite the stigma, and I’m so proud of everyone for speaking up.
3. There will always be people who don’t think it exists.
And they are a-holes. Don’t listen to them as they are simply uneducated and just enjoy mocking people.
4. The mental health service in the UK needs radical improvement.
Almost everyone I’ve talked to has had a terrible time talking to their GP about mental health. No wonder there’s an epidemic. Even those who do eventually get treatment end up having a bad time with their therapist, during their stay at in-patient facilities and feel as though there’s nowhere to turn. With government spending so low and ever being cut due to the nation’s debt, it seems like nothing is going to change unless you’re willing to pay for the services yourself.
5. More needs to be done in mainstream media.
Don’t get me wrong, the media has changed vastly since I was a child in terms of it’s treatment of mental health coverage. From the soaps dealing with a vast array of mental illnesses (well done Hollyoaks for delivering Hannah Ashworth’s eating disorders storyline back in the good old days of 2005) to the support in the latter part of 2016 to publicise the rates of male suicide, mental health is increasingly becoming less of a taboo subject. But, it needn’t stop there. ‘Scarier’ mental health issues, such as personality disorders, psychosis and schizophrenia, are never publicised openly, or if they are, they are linked to killers and people that one should marginalise. So much can be done to make everyone feel less alone, especially by arguably the most powerful force in the country – the media.
6. There is such a VAST amount of support out there.
From the countless charities and phone lines out there (I have a list here if you want to find out more) to the people within the community that are always on call to listen, it’s a bit of a labyrinth, but one that I’m certainly happy to get lost in. Support in my area through the NHS is particularly poor, so knowing that there are other services that can support me has really given me a lifeline – and if you’re suffering too, please know that the NHS isn’t the end all and be all, there is a tonne of services that will be suited to your specific need.
7. It is the most supportive communities – ever.
There is always someone to turn to, no matter how big or small the problem that actually gets where you’re coming from. Oh, you’re crying because you burnt your pizza? No problem. Oh, you are seriously thinking about killing yourself? No problem, let me talk you right out of that. It’s the best thing about it, everyone you meet has either been in that same position, or has a certain empathy toward your situation. The TalkMH chat just highlights how wonderful the community is, with tonnes of people joining in each week, no matter what the topic.
8. You are never ever alone.
Mental illness can be the loneliest place, but you don’t have to be.
**If you or your loved one’s condition is critical, suicidal, or just very worrying, please call 999. You can also contact the Samaritans on 08457 909090 24 hours a day or Mind‘s infoline on 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri 9am-6pm)**