If you’ve been anywhere on social media today you would’ve noticed that 10th October marks World Mental Health Day, a day dedicated to increasing awareness and reducing the stigma and negativity surrounding mental health. With celebrities and non-celebrities alike taking to interviews or social media to voice their own opinions and support on the matter, it seems hard to believe that the stigma surrounding mental health is still prevalent in society today.
The Mental Health Foundation believes that almost ‘nine out of ten people with mental health problems say that stigma and discrimination have a negative effect on their lives’. This may shock many of you, but according to the mental health charity Mind, one in four people in the UK face a mental health problem each year, whilst Young Minds state that one in ten young people between the ages of five and sixteen suffer from a mental health disorder. These statistics are alarming to say the least; to know that there are so many people struggling with some form of mental health problem, whilst the stigma remains intact, is horrifying.
However, World Mental Health Day is a fantastic way to highlight statistics and support networks whilst reducing the ignorance surrounding the subject. For some context, 17 people in every 100 experience suicidal thoughts and 9.7 people in every 100 suffer from mixed depression and anxiety (Mind), whilst 1 in every 15 young people deliberately self-harm (Young Minds). It is important to remember they are not alone. That you are not alone. Phobias, OCD, panic disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and eating disorders also fall into this category too, alongside Personality disorders, Bipolar disorder and Schizophrenia. There seems to be a lack of wider understanding about the various range of mental health issues, and perhaps that’s why the stigma still seems to rear its ugly head.
These facts and figures seem to speak for themselves, highlighting that mental health issues are indeed common in society, more common than we think. Ignorance on such information and subsequent isolation or discrimination of people with mental health illnesses contributes to this stigma, and some may say that it is unacceptable to think and behave so. Recent articles have detailed many celebrities lending their voice to the awareness of mental health, including artists Bruce Springsteen, Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar’s fights with depression, which is incredible for people to hear to understand that they’re not alone or the only ones going through mental health challenges. Remember, they’re people too.
It is crucial for awareness to continue to increase, and for society to aid those struggling with mental health-related illness. The Mental Health Network believe that ‘by 2030, it is estimated that there will be approximately two million more adults in the UK with mental health problems than there were in 2013‘, suggesting that this will continue to be an uphill struggle, made easier through awareness and acceptance. The call for wider understanding can come in many forms, and all it takes is a little bit of time and patience.
Many services exist, a great deal of which are free of charge, to assist individuals struggling with mental illness including the NHS and charities such as Mind and Young Minds. The App store also offers apps, such as Calm Harm, which aim to assist in mental health struggles.
The University of Southampton offers a range of services too: Nightline and Student Services, are always there if you need to turn to someone for advice.