Debunking the Stigma

Updated: May 3



Let's start with some very important facts...


Research by the Time to Change campaign shows that 90% of us with mental health problems experience stigma. This is shocking as it is this stigma that prevents many of us from asking for support and as a result of this and other factors, such as toxic masculinity, one person worldwide commits suicide every 40 seconds.


1 in 4 people experience an issue with their mental health every year.


People with mental health problems are not usually violent. In fact, only 3-5% of the various acts of violence can be contributed by those people who have a serious mental illness.


Even though schizophrenia is one of the most common mental illnesses, people who struggle with emotional wellbeing in this way are actually more likely to be a victim of violence and not a perpetrator. In fact, 45% of us who experience severe mental illness have been the victim of a crime just in the past year.


Many people do not seek treatment for mental illness due to the associated stigma. Only 44% of adults with diagnosable mental illness receive treatment.


In 2018/2019, 54% of all sick days taken nationally in the workplace were due to work-related

ill-health.


Two-thirds of people with a mental illness say that the workplace negatively contributes to their emotional wellbeing, yet only 13% of UK line managers have received any training into how to support their employees' emotional wellbeing.


Members of the LGBTQI+ community are twice as likely as heterosexual people to have a mental health condition.


Nearly nine out of ten people with mental health problems say that stigma and discrimination have a negative effect on their lives.


The Time to Change Campaign which is funded by The Department of Health and Social Care aims to improve the way people with a mental health struggle are treated in UK society. They recognise that one of the biggest contributors to people with low poor emotional wellbeing living healthy lives i.e, able to hold down a job, have a positive relationship, financial stability etc, is actually due to the stigma and discrimination they face, rather than the illness itself. This is because the stigma and discrimination that, depending on your gender (sorry guys) and diagnosis, people have to face, often leaves them feeling unable to reach out for support receive professional help or even just help in their families, friends or workplace. Those who experience anorexia for example have a 20% fatality rate unless they receive treatment in which the chance of death falls to 2-3%. However, so many people who are submitting to an eating disorder or other mental illness that has predisposed stereotypes towards a certain physical appearance, do not seek help because they do not believe they fit the bill or are sick enough for someone to take it seriously. If that’s you then I hear you. I take it very seriously.


Around 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem this year yet the shame and silence can be as bad as the mental health problem itself. Your attitude to mental health could change someone’s life. - Time to Change Campaign

The reason I think having a greater and deeper understanding of what makes us tick is so important is that it is only recently that people have started being honest about how they feel. Employers are also starting to catch up as laws change and people are more frequently encouraged to open up about how they are actually feeling. It is vital that people understand their emotional well being if they are going to be able to better their mental health. Everybody enjoys and struggles with emotions. It’s a given fact that when people talk about mental wellbeing they actually mean everybody, regardless of illness or whether they realise they mean everybody or not. There is so much emphasis on physical health these days, people pride themselves in good blood test results and being trim and, although I don’t think this competitive nature is healthy in the field of mental wellbeing, we just don’t seem to care as openly about our emotions. However, as long as suicide is the biggest cause of death in the younger demographics of men, and not ignoring the unproven but blatantly obvious correlation with the toxic masculinity most men face, we still have a lot of work to do.


After publicly speaking about his depression, the prime minister of Norway Kjell Magne Bondevik took three weeks of sick leave in his first term in office in August of 1998. He received masses of support from not only the people of Norway but also worldwide for sharing the honest truth as to why he was on sick leave. Of course, there was still a stigma around his depressive episode and his ability to run the country, but he became the highest-ranked world leader to admit to struggling with a mental health problem whilst in office and as a result, was re-elected - many say due to the relatability people felt towards him and the improvement he made to the international stigma of mental illness with regards to professional ability. I believe that Kjell Magne Bondevik is a role model for all men who struggle to be honest about their wellbeing due to fear of judgement and a threatened pride or masculinity. The truth is, and I don’t just speak for myself when I say this, most men would be more respected for opening up about their mental health than the other way around.


References

"Time To Change." https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/. Accessed 26 Jul. 2020.

"Suicide: one person dies every 40 seconds." 9 Sep. 2019, https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/09-09-2019-suicide-one-person-dies-every-40-seconds. Accessed 26 Jul. 2020.

12 best ways to improve your mental health. - WOMS." 16 Feb. 2019, https://worldofmedicalsaviours.com/12-best-ways-to-improve-your-mental-health/. Accessed 26 Jul. 2020.

"WOMS - Boost your health and knowledge." https://worldofmedicalsaviours.com/. Accessed 26 Jul. 2020.

"Work-related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in ... - HSE." 30 Oct. 2019, https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress.pdf. Accessed 26 Jul. 2020.

"Stigma and discrimination | Mental Health Foundation." https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/s/stigma-and-discrimination. Accessed 26 Jul. 2020.

"Eating Disorder Statistics - Mirasol Eating Disorder Treatment." https://www.mirasol.net/learning-center/eating-disorder-statistics.php. Accessed 26 Jul. 2020.


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