If you don’t suffer from a mental illness yourself, the chances are that you will know someone who does. This indicates just how many people now suffer from mental health issues. So why is it still something that the majority of us are reluctant to talk about? A nationwide campaign called ‘It’s Time to Talk, it’s time to change’ is being launched in May by the ‘Time for Change’ anti discrimination programme.
Their aim is to remove the stigma and to talk to sufferers without making them feel inferior. That may sound harsh, but many do feel inferior, and isolated, and different. Having a mental illness affects every single aspect of their lives. Families often find it difficult to accept that one of them has a mental illness. Friends may be awkward around them and be stuck for words, resulting in the sufferer feeling even worse.
Imagine what it’s like for them going for jobs. If they are happy to talk about their mental illness and aren’t ashamed of it, the chances are they won’t get the job. Many of these illnesses can be controlled by medication in the same way that Asthma is controlled by an inhaler or a nebuliser. There are no prizes for guessing between the asthmatic and the mental health sufferer who would get the job.
The stigma must be removed, and that is why so many celebrities are backing the campaign. Everybody thinks they are fine about mental illness, until they come into contact with it. Many sufferers report that before they succumbed to it, they didn’t realise how strangely people would react to it. They wished they had made the effort to accept it as part of society, as they now felt isolated and ashamed.
Nobody should ever feel ashamed of suffering from an illness over which they have no control, but those with mental health issues do. This is due to the attitude of everyone around them, and their reluctance to really talk to the sufferer and try to understand. These are the same person they have always been; they just now have an illness. Would they treat a Diabetic like this?
We all need to support this campaign and make the effort. If you know someone with a mental illness talk to them, listen to what they have to say. Learn what you can about the various types of mental illness and what the sufferers are going through. Above all don’t make them feel like outcasts, embrace them and accept them. The difference you can make to their lives by doing this is phenomenal.