Thursday, 17 March 2016

Are too many people talking about mental health?


I never thought I would say this, but I think too many people are talking about mental health.

Inspired by Laura's post, it started me thinking about how many 'coming out' mental health posts I have read recently. When I first started blogging it was difficult to find anyone else writing openly about their mental health, but now it almost seems like the in thing to do.

Don't get me wrong, I think it is great that everyone is talking more about mental health - especially the people that are really suffering, as I hope it helps them by opening up about it. However I can't help but wonder whether some people are just jumping on the bandwagon and talking about self-diagnosed anxiety or depression, as they have a few worries or stresses in their life at the moment. It almost belittles the people that do genuinely suffer with a clinical mental illness.

I am currently carrying out a placement on inpatient psychiatry, so I have seen some extremely mentally unwell people - probably about as severe as it can get. Schizophrenia, bipolar, depression... It has actually put my depression into perspective for me, as I know I am not as unwell as those people detained in the hospital as they are a danger to themselves.

Many people don't consider how bad mental illnesses can get, and how debilitating they can be. They can literally stop people from functioning in their daily lives - break up families, cause unemployment, leave people lonely and desperate. Recently bipolar disorder has been seen as a 'cool' illness to have, because of celebrities such as Stephen Fry and Demi Lovato, so many people are self-diagnosing themselves with it - when in reality for many people it's an awful disorder to live with.

Depression and anxiety are much the same. People may feel slightly down or stressed and casually proclaim that they are 'depressed', or nervous for something and say they are suffering with anxiety. I don't think some people quite realise how offensive and belittling this can be for people actually diagnosed with a clinical mental illness - and writing about it on a blog is even worse.

I think it's great that so many people are talking about mental health, and we need to continue to do so, joining more people in with the conversation. However I think people should think twice before they post on the internet that they are suffering with a mental illness, especially if they haven't been diagnosed by a health professional. Some blog posts I read, and YouTube videos that I listen to, are so articulate about mental health and have really helped me to understand my own diagnosis.

I hope one day that everyone will be open about mental health, dropping it into normal conversation. Those that are suffering will be able to talk about it to get help, and those that are not will be able to discuss it, and perhaps understand why their mental health is good.

I think mental health applies to everyone just as much as physical health, as it's so important for a functioning and healthy life, but sometimes people should think twice about 'coming out' about a mental illness that may not actually exist. Apart from that, keep on talking!
Create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that just looks good on the outside.



3 comments:

  1. It's an interesting thing to consider, are too many people talking about mental health? I think with the 1 in 4 statistic, it's probably not surprising we hear a lot of people talking about mental health. I do though feel like serious mental illness is still very underrepresented- lots of people write about their experiences of depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder, but I rarely come across accounts of schizophrenia for example. Partly due to the fact it's less common (but still has a much higher incidence than I realised!!), but also because of how much it affects someone's ability to function. In some ways I think it's a good thing that people even with mild symptoms of mental illness discuss this, because it helps more people feel validated enough to seek help. What I agree with you on though, is that those who do not have a diagnosis may sometimes be self diagnosing in a way that doesn't seem to happen with physical illnesses quite so much. It would be interesting to look at why this happens, as I don't know how many people genuinely do it just to be jumping on the bandwagon. I think it all comes down to the recurring theme of educating people on mental health, drawing distinctions between normal moods/stress/nerves etc. and actual diagnosed illness (something which I think even a lot of health professionals might find hard!). It would also be good to get more people talking about severe mental illness to show just how broad a spectrum it is and maybe help people to realise that mental health disorders are about more than feeling a bit low sometimes.
    Jennifer X
    Ginevrella | Lifestyle Blog

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  2. I don't generally talk about my mental health, it's a personal thing that I don't want to be open about or known for; and I never mention it on my blog as I know my family read it and they have no idea. But that's my choice I guess :)

    In recent times, it seems that some people jump on a bandwagon and claim a mental illness when they have none, it's suddenly become cool which is terrible. There's a fine line between talking about it and spreading awareness and being cool with the latest new thing x

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