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Stop the stigma: Let's talk about mental health

CW: This article discusses mental health which some readers may find distressing.



Mental health


Mental health is the health of our mental state.

This includes the health of:

"Our Emotional, psychological, and social well-being.”
It is a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realize their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community’.

Our mental state can affect how we handle stress, build relationships and make decisions.

When our mental health is good we will often find it easier to cope with life and everyday tasks.

But when suffering with poor mental health, we may find life tasks extremely difficult and struggle to cope.

This can affect our daily lives and make even simple tasks seem impossible.

It is completely normal to suffer with poor mental health.

Many of us will suffer with poor mental health during our lifetime.


Mental health statistics


Many people suffer with mental health problems each year.

"Mental health problems affect one in four people any given year".
"In the United Kingdom, mental health issues represent the single largest cause of disability".

Mental health problems are extremely common.

There are a wide range of factors which can affect our mental health.


Factors which can affect mental health


Factors which can affect mental health include mental disorders, economic factors, life experiences biological factors and neurodevelopmental disorders.

Here are some examples:


Mental disorders:




  • Genetics- may be predisposed to developing mental health issues.



These are just some of the factors which can affect our mental health.

Other people, relationship issues, the weather, world events and poor physical health can also affect our mental health.

"There's no single cause of mental health problems and the reasons they develop are complex."

Poor mental health can be caused by just one or multiple factors.

Different factors in our lives affect us all differently.

Some people are able to cope with certain factors which other people may struggle to cope with.

Different points in our lives and other stresses can affect how we cope and lead to poor mental health.

Mental health affects many of us, so why is there such a stigma surrounding mental health?


Stigma and misconceptions


"Stigma is when someone views you in a negative way because you have a distinguishing characteristic or personal trait'.

Although society is progressing and becoming more accepting of mental health issues, there's still a stigma due to massive misconceptions.

Lack of understanding about mental health are often why misconceptions are made.

Many people believe that people suffering with poor mental health are violent and dangerous.

It is extremely rare that people suffering with poor mental health display violent tendencies.

According to Mind:

"The most common mental health problems have no significant link to violent behaviour."

These misconceptions are dangerous because they can lead to discrimination.

The Equality Act 2010 states that:

"Discrimination means treating you unfairly because of who you are".

Stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health problems can cause harmful effects.


Harmful effects of stigma and discrimination


There are many harmful effects created by stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health.

Some of the harmful effects are:

  • Bullying

  • Fewer opportunities due to lack of understanding in society e.g., fewer job opportunities.

  • Less support for people suffering with mental health problems.

  • Reluctance to seek help when suffering due to fearing being discriminated against.

  • Mental health may worsen due to stigma and discrimination.

To tackle these harmful effects we need to stop the stigma surrounding mental health problems.

Speak out against stigma and regularly discuss mental health problems to educate and show they exist and are normal.

ensure people don't suffer in silence.


How to help tackle stigma


There are many ways you can help deal with stigma.

Some of the ways you can help are:

  • Become an advocate

  • Get involved in campaigns

  • Speak out against stigma- use your social media platforms to educate others about mental health and how it can easily be affected.

  • If you suffer with mental health problems, speak about your experience as this will help educate others and improve their understanding of mental health problems.


If you are suffering don't suffer in silence, there are many places you can seek help and advice.


Where to seek help and advice


Crisis phone helplines:


Text email and online helplines:



Therapies:



By Gemma Woolston

Journalist

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