Society needs to stop the stigma on mental health

Sarah writes about her experience with anxiety

Written by Sarah Behan


Anxiety is something I have struggled with from a very young age, with the first time I remember being 13. I'm almost 16 and still struggling with it, along with depression and I feel like the stigma around mental illness needs to be broken. 

Education is key. I believe teaching people from a young age is a good way to start, starting off with the basis of what mental health is and how it can be good to have a mentally healthy mind set.

I think young people are put down too much in society from the older generations. I know of people who think that the LGBTQ community are made up because all of a sudden it's spoken about. I know people who have laughed when I say that people are speaking about it now because society is more accepting than it was back when they were younger. And they have the same approach to young people with mental illness.

I know of people who have asked me "what do you have to worry about? You're only 15!" And who have told me that I "don't know what stress is" and that I will when I'm their age. This needs to change. 

Millions of young people are struggling with mental illness and I think the older generations need to change their outlook before we focus on the youth. I'm sick of people saying that help is out there when it's only available if you dig deep enough. 

More funding needs to go towards helping people with mental illness and having free services they can visit. 

I believe that everybody needs to be educated on different forms of mental illness and need to stop using mental illnesses as a joke. It's a serious issue that kills. Depression leads people to take their own life because it's that hard to deal with. Anxiety shuts people from the real world because the fear of messing something up is so huge. 

People need to be educated on how to help people with mental illness and to spot the signs that somebody may be finding it hard to deal with.

Teach people that talking helps, things get better, and stop pressuring them into situations they clearly do not want to be in.

I have been told on numerous occasions that I'm "overreacting" and "over thinking things that will never happen" along with the fact that I'm not eating the right foods or that I'm not sleeping enough. This is not the right approach. 

Allow people who are having a panic attack to leave the room or crowded area to an airy space so they can breathe. Talk them through breathing techniques and don't make them feel like you have something better to be doing by looking at the clock. Offer them a drink or tissue, or talk to them to get their mind away from the situation.

That is what's needed. Education is key, and the power of society is the only way of getting this message across. Their should be more state funded facilities allocated for teaching about mental illness in all levels of education and in the work places. 

Society as a whole needs to stop the stigma on mental health. Allow young boys and grown men to know that it's okay to cry and they can suffer from depression and eating disorders too and that the same help is available to them and that they deserve the help to get better. Allow young women to be body confident without being seen as cocky, and tell them that saying they suffer from a mental illness when they don't is a wrong thing to do and shouldn't be done just because a person they admire suffers from the same thing. Teach society as a whole to stop romanticising mental illness as this cute thing that creeps in now and again that makes people shy and cute, when it's so hard to deal with that people have found no other way out than addiction and suicide.

Society needs to change their way of thinking. People need to acknowledge the problem and fight for the country to be a more positive place. To fight for more resources. 

People do not need to do grand gestures to have this achieved. 

Smile at people who are waking by, use somebodies name when you're talking to them or even just do the easiest things like ask them how they are.

Put helplines in public places. Advance the mental health teams and resources in secondary schools, and have properly trained counsellors there. Have positive mental health quotes in offices to make people aware that they are alive for a reason and that they're special and loved. Have the media from covering stories of suicide as not only a time to praise what an amazing person they were and who sad the story is, but also include that help is out there for people who are feeling the same way. Put positive quotes in public places and litter the country in a more positive and caring place for people to live in  

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