A General Post
Mental Health is something we all have, but 1 in 4 of us will suffer from mental health problems at some point in our lives. I myself have suffered from depression from the age of 15, and now at 19 following counselling and medication I am almost at a place where I can say I am no longer depressed. Approximately for every 100 teenagers, as many as 8 may be suffering from a mental health issue, and a recent study published in The Lancet reveals that 1 in 12 teenagers self harm, whilst Universities have reported a massive 93% rise in students seeking help for mental health issues.
Teenagers are very vulnerable to depression or other mental health issues, and it is important that we encourage them not to keep these feelings to themselves, but to share them. Of course, people of any age can help them to do so, either by directly encouraging them, or by talking about their own mental health problems. If we can break down that stigma that surrounds talking out about mental health issues, then that is the first step towards improving the lives of millions of people and reducing the number of people who suffer from mental health problems.
Certainly something which helped me when I was first beginning to notice my suicidal thoughts and my low mood was to talk to others about it; they were people I didn’t even know very well. Eventually I was persuaded to speak to a doctor, who was rather unhelpful, so I didn’t go back for 6 months. After finding a further two doctors to be rather unhelpful, instead of giving up I tried once more, and I found a doctor who listened to me, and gave me the name and address of a counselling service, but also told me to come back if I continued to feel the way I did. One negative experience does not mean that all the others will be like that; my advice is not to give up but to try again.
A question I have raised a number of times is: could we put counsellors in all schools? Whilst this would be expensive, if it is a scheme supported by an increase in information about mental health and how important it can be to see a professional then this could prove to be an important step forward in supporting young people with mental health issues.
Essentially, what we need to get out there is that it is ok to talk about our feelings and our mental health issues. The more we talk about it, the less stigma there will be, the more likely people are to talk to their friends/family/doctor about it and arguably it might even prevent people from suffering more severely in the future. This would be because more information about looking after our mental health would be more widely available and talked about. We need to get to a point where we treat our mental health as we treat our physical health; we don’t discriminate with sexuality or race and rightly so, so why do we with our health? Let’s break down the stigma and get talking about it.