The Piers Morgan Debate…My Response

I’ve abandoned the topic that I was going to post this week, to write my response to Piers Morgan’s tweet during Mental Health Awareness Week;

By and large, I think the media did a great job of putting mental health out there. I had a week off to move house, so was watching more television than usual and reading more articles than usual. Lots of people were speaking out and regardless of whether or not they were ‘really’ mentally ill, well, that’s not the point is it? The point is/was to promote good mental health and to encourage speaking out, as well as supporting those who do suffer with poor mental health, short term or long term. It’s so bloody complex. In my previous post, one of the things that I talked about was support — and not support that put’s any pressure on our NHS resources or anything like that, just plain and simple support from friends and family, support that doesn’t cost a penny. Now Piers’ seemingly harmless comment stated that a number as high as 34 million UK adults are mentally ill seemed ridiculous. It is a massive number, I agree with you Piers. For once I agree with you. But that number represents so much more than the strait-jacketed stigmatisation of mental illness that exists in society. It’s so easy for a man that we can assume has not had a brush with mental illness, to say that’s utter nonsense. The thought that went into the response possibly took as long as it did to write it.

Thoughtless, Unhelpful, Hurtful

Piers actually seems like a nice guy, and part of me thinks that he may be being controversial on purpose to almost get this debate out there, in that instance, hats off to you Mr Morgan. But let’s consider that an ignorant comment like that would have almost certainly been quite hurtful and damaging to anybody who was/is mentally ill whether that number was 34, 340 or indeed 34 million. This kind of thoughtlessness is both unhelpful and unnecessary. Again, I absolutely agree that those that need help the most, need to be got to and prioritised (something else I agree with Piers on), but the point was lost. Mental Health Awareness Week is about AWARENESS.

So let’s think about the common cold for a moment. Something that a huge number of people suffer from, more than once in their lives. When we have it, we get on with it, we, in the words of Piers, ‘man up’. But it’s what we do with it that matters. We will all get a cold no matter how many Berocca tablets we take on a given week, it is inevitable, particularly during the winter months. This is very much the same as what we might call the normal mental ups and downs of life. The frequency and the duration of colds, however, can depend on our habits and how we look after ourselves. So do we sleep well, do we eat a balanced diet, do we get the recuperation we need when we have one? By maintaining a good healthy routine, the chances of getting a cold and the severity/length of a cold can be lessened. I’d say this could be the same (to a degree) with mental health. Like I said earlier, it’s bloody complex. If we can promote all the ‘good things’ to do if we are feeling down, anxious, depressed or whatever you want to call it, surely we can prevent bouts of ill mental health from getting worse and those ‘ridiculous’ stats might come down a little. So these few weeks have been stressful for me. I’ve moved house, I’ve started a new job, I’ve gone on a course for my new job. It’s been an anxious time. Just because I have been anxious, it doesn’t mean I am mentally ill, it just means that, for a small period, my mental health has dipped slightly. And I know how to manage it to say ‘okay so this normal because so much is going on’ and I’ll look after myself to ensure it doesn’t get out of hand. Sometimes things pile on top of each other and people don’t know how to manage it, that’s where having awareness of what can help is very important.

This article from The Mighty, speaking to Mark Rowland from The Mental Health Foundation sums it up;

So Piers, I think it is you who needs to man up a bit. Think about the consequences of your actions, have a little empathy, be ‘useful’ with your controversy.

What say you?