Mental Health Stigma: We Are Not Weak

Over three quarters of young people have stated that they feel there is a stigma surrounding mental illness, and a quarter wouldn’t ask for help when suffering, with a third of these feeling that admitting to problems could harm their job chances, a recent survey suggests.

A third of young people who answered the survey said they would worry about appearing weak if they sought help, and the majority stated that they would not want to confide in anyone at all.

For some reason, the society we live in makes it near to impossible for people to feel comfortable about opening up about their struggles with mental health issues. People feel like they can’t seek help, as they fear their peers will judge them.

In media in the past, mental health has almost been demonized, constantly being associated with actions of wrongdoing or crimes, and is often associated with synonyms such as ‘crazy’ or ‘mental.’

There is so much pressure on young people and children in particular in regards to society to look a certain way or act a certain way, and if they don’t they are an outcast or are abnormal, and this can then create mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Social media has such a big impact on the mental health of people, as there is such a pressure to get a certain amount of likes or followers, and an almost suffocating pressure to succeed, and if you don’t, you are made to feel as though you are a failure.

There is an even higher stigma around males and mental health, as many men feel that if they speak out about their struggles they are weak and it is almost emasculating for them. One of the biggest killers of men is themselves, a recent study shows. Why are we living in a society that makes men feel like they can’t openly discuss their mental health problems in fear of seeming weak or ‘girly’, and would rather take their own lives to end the suffering?

If someone broke an arm, they would go to the doctors or a hospital without a second thought to get help, but when it comes to mental health, people are always hesitant to talk about it. Discussing struggles with mental health almost exposes a sort of vulnerability to a person, and a lot of people said that they don’t like that.

It’s almost as if we have failed as a society to provide a safe place for people to speak out about their suffering, but because so many people feel like they can’t speak out without the fear of being judged, there is no conversation happening to actively end the stigma. This is why I think it is so important that we have charities such as Mind and Time to Change, which actively encourage days like ‘Time to Talk Day’ to prompt the conversation surrounding mental health. It allows people to come together to discuss their experiences without worrying what their peers may think, as it it a national recognised day.

9 in 10 people suffering with a mental health illness will experience stigma and discrimination.

We are not weak for wanting to seek help for mental health the way we would with physical health. It’s human nature. 1 in 4 people will suffer with some form of mental health illness during their lifetime, meaning at least one person you know is struggling. Does that make it seem more real?

If there weren’t so many stigmas surrounding mental health, I believe that a lot more lives would be saved, because if people felt as though they could speak out and seek help, perhaps they wouldn’t have turned to taking their own lives.