A Letter to Society about Mental Health

Dear anyone who uses the terms “batsh*t”, “crazy”, “psycho”, “mentalist” or any other terms that are tasteless, uneducated, outdated and plain wrong,

The brain is one of the largest and most complex organs in the human body. With so many things going on up there, there’s a lot that can interfere with what is considered to be “normal cognitive functioning”. Even with modern science, we can only explain and understand a fraction of the activity that is actually occurring up there. As a species, we are afraid of what we don’t know and things that we don’t understand. Something that becomes apparent when movements such as Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ and environmental awareness organisations try to raise awareness for issues within our society. There are always people who will respond by choosing to remain ignorant to change and frankly, hold us back from developing as a society and species. Mental health awareness is no different.

Almost every single person has been affected by mental illness in some way. Whether you have suffered yourself or someone that you love has, we are all aware of how deeply and negatively a mental health issue can impact an individuals life. It can be debilitating and unbearable, to the point that it can drive some to take their own life. According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2018 over 6,500 people committed suicide in the UK. 6,500 people decided that ending their life was easier than continuing to live with the inescapable pain and torment that they endure every single day.

For those who do not end their life, it is not just their mental health that is suffering; depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, addictions, e.t.c. all vastly and negatively impact physical health. Auto-immune diseases, which we still know so little about, such as; alopecia, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and graves disease can all be triggered by mental health issues (and almost always aggravate existing problems). Heart conditions are worsened when your mental health is suffering, as is almost every other physical ailment, proving that living with a mental illness is NOT only “in your head” and is NOT an asymptomatic “invisible illness”. In fact, mental health issues wave many red flags and we, as a society, simply choose to ignore them and avoid talking about them.

Despite us being aware of just how common mental health issues are and just how debilitating they can become, society still does not react in the same way as when something goes wrong with our heart, lungs, liver, or even a broken bone. There is an unsettling stigma attached to it. It is a grey area in our healthcare system and this needs to change. The average waiting time for mental health service intervention in the UK is 4 months and for many, that is simply too long.

Not only do people who suffer from mental health illnesses have difficulty receiving the help and support that they need and deserve but they are subject to discrimination and ridicule on a daily basis. There are many procedures implemented within the workplace for physical issues, however, so few for our mental health. If an individual wakes up and experiences an intense panic attack before work, they will often, still have to do their very best to force themselves to show up at the office and get through the day because people simply do not understand just how difficult it really is.

We need to stop referring to others as “crazy”, “batsh*t” or “psycho”. We wouldn’t ridicule another for a physical ailment so why is it okay for the punchline to be about an individual’s mental wellbeing? Why is it okay to judge an entire person solely on their mental health issues? Is she “batsh*t crazy”? Or is she a strong, beautiful, intelligent and talented woman who suffers from a mental health issue? If you are the kind of person who would refer to someone in such a derogatory way in the first place, you are probably also the kind of person who is too scared to get close enough to ever find out what their magic really is and for that, I am truly sorry for you. Some of the most fascinating, loving, funny and intelligent people in the world have experienced mental health issues. A mental health illness detracts nothing from who an individual truly is, nothing.

Coming from someone who has suffered from mental health issues her whole life, we don’t expect others to know or understand how we feel. We know that it is difficult to imagine unless you have experienced it yourself, however, the world would be a little lighter and kinder if we educated ourselves about the subject and learned how we can help. Simple changes need to be made such as; next time you are feeling a little down-hearted at work, say something other than, “I am feeling so depressed right now” to your co-worker because, for all you know, they could truly be depressed. We need to understand that depression is a real illness and the word should not be thrown around to the point that it undermines the disease itself.

Don’t describe others as “nuts” or a “loony”, it is simply out-of-touch, distasteful and hurtful, not only to the individual that you are making the comment about but to every single person who has suffered from a mental health illness. If it takes an average of 4 months to get people the help and support that they need and deserve, the least that we can do is try to make that 4 months as easy and bearable as possible for them and one of the most helpful things that we can do is to educate ourselves.

Please, please, please can we help make this world more mindful, more considerate and help educate others to turn it into the kind and loving world that we want to bring children into. I have included some links below to useful information and advice below, which I hope you might take a look at.

Please remember that if you do suffer from mental health issues, you are not alone. The world is changing for the better and we will one day get there. Let’s stick together and fight for the change, so one day, others will not have to.

All my love,

Rachael


How to Support Someone with Mental Health Issues

Rethink Mental Illness

How to support someone in a crisis —  https://www.rethink.org/advice-and-information/carers-hub/getting-help-in-a-crisis/

Mental Health Foundation

How to support someone with a mental health problem —  https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/supporting-someone-mental-health-problem

Mind

How to help others with mental health problems —  https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helping-someone-else/

Young Minds

How to help someone having a panic attack —  https://youngminds.org.uk/blog/how-you-can-help-someone-having-a-panic-attack/#how-to-help-someone-having-a-panic-attack

Patient

How to support someone through a panic attack —  https://patient.info/news-and-features/how-to-support-someone-through-a-panic-attack


Learn About Mental Health

Mental Health Foundation

Learn about mental health —  https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/your-mental-health/about-mental-health

Mind

Types of mental health problems —  https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/

Scottish Association for Mental Health

Understanding mental health problems —  https://www.samh.org.uk/documents/understandingmentalhealthproblems.pdf


UK Mental Health Help and Support

Anxiety UK

Charity providing support if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.

Phone: 03444 775 774 (Monday to Friday, 9.30 am to 10 pm; Saturday to Sunday, 10 am to 8 pm)

Website: www.anxietyuk.org.uk

Bipolar UK

A charity helping people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder.

Website: www.bipolaruk.org.uk

CALM

CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15 to 35.

Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm to midnight)

Website: www.thecalmzone.net

Men’s Health Forum

24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email.

Website: www.menshealthforum.org.uk

Mental Health Foundation

Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.

Website: www.mentalhealth.org.uk

Mind

Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.

Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 6 pm)

Website: www.mind.org.uk

No Panic

Voluntary charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Offers a course to help overcome your phobia or OCD.

Phone: 0844 967 4848 (daily, 10am to 10pm). Calls cost 5p per minute plus your phone provider’s Access Charge

Website: www.nopanic.org.uk

The Mix

The Mix provides judgement-free information and support to young people aged 13–25 on a range of issues including mental health problems. Young people can access The Mix’s support via phone, email, webchat, peer to peer and counselling services.

Telephone: 0808 808 4994 (11am-11pm, free to call)

Crisis Support: Text ‘THEMIX’ to 85258.

Website: www.themix.org.uk/get-support

Elefriends

Elefriends is a supportive online community where you can be yourself. Elefriends is run by Mind.

Website: http://elefriends.org.uk/

SHOUT

Shout is the UK’s first 24/7 text service, free on all major mobile networks, for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere. It’s a place to go if you’re struggling to cope and you need immediate help.

Website: https://www.giveusashout.org/

OCD Action

Support for people with OCD. Includes information on treatment and online resources.

Phone: 0845 390 6232 (Monday to Friday, 9.30 am to 5 pm). Calls cost 5p per minute plus your phone provider’s Access Charge

Website: www.ocdaction.org.uk

OCD UK

A charity run by people with OCD, for people with OCD. Includes facts, news and treatments.

Phone: 0333 212 7890 (Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm)

PAPYRUS

Young suicide prevention society.

Phone: HOPELINEUK 0800 068 4141 (Monday to Friday, 10 am to 10 pm, and 2 pm to 10 pm on weekends and bank holidays)

Website: www.papyrus-uk.org

Rethink Mental Illness

Support and advice for people living with mental illness.

Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Monday to Friday, 9.30 am to 4 pm)

Website: www.rethink.org

Samaritans

Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.

Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)

Website: www.samaritans.org.uk

SANE

Emotional support, information and guidance for people affected by mental illness, their families and carers.

SANEline: 0300 304 7000 (daily, 4.30pm to 10.30pm)

Textcare: comfort and care via text message, sent when the person needs it most: www.sane.org.uk/textcare

Peer support forum: www.sane.org.uk/supportforum

Website: www.sane.org.uk/support

YoungMinds

Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services for parents and professionals.

Phone: Parents’ helpline 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday, 9.30 am to 4 pm)

Website: www.youngminds.org.uk

Alcoholics Anonymous

Services to help support recovery throughout and after alcohol addiction.

Phone: 0800 917 7650 (24-hour helpline)

Website: www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk

National Gambling Helpline

Services to help support recovery throughout and after gambling addiction.

Phone: 0808 8020 133 (daily, 8 am to midnight)

Website: www.begambleaware.org

Narcotics Anonymous

Services to help support recovery throughout and after gambling addiction.

Phone: 0300 999 1212 (daily, 10 am to midnight)

Beat

Charity to help support anyone suffering from an eating disorder.

Phone: 0808 801 0677 (adults) or 0808 801 0711 (for under-18s)

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