End The Stigma | Time To Talk Day

Today is Time to Talk day, designed to get people talking about mental health to end the horrible stigma that surrounds mental health issues. It's something organised by Time to Change, which is run by various mental health charities to put a stop to stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health.

Mental health is just as important as physical health, and yet mental health isn't often spoken about in a positive way. Often, as soon as people see or realise that you have a mental health problem, there's a stigma and labels attached to you that you didn't want.

Whilst I was in school, I was diagnosed with both depression and anxiety and signed up to a series of counselling sessions through Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services on the NHS. My school knew about the issues I was having, and luckily most teachers were very understanding when an issue was to arise, however there were a few who seemed to miss the point. I was told that I wouldn't be suited to university because of my depression, I was told that my panic attacks were disruptive - which I can see but it's not exactly what you want to hear. I struggled with school, and these things were just making it worse. Not to mention that I personally didn't find the counselling services very helpful. Of course this is different for everyone but I just found that they made me think too much about things I just wanted to forget. At 16 I just felt alone, and that because of an illness that I couldn't help I was being told I couldn't achieve all the I wanted to.

All I really needed was someone to talk to, who didn't always talk back or expect my thoughts to be coherent' I needed someone to be there. I'm so lucky that my mum was actually that person, and to be honest she's held me together a lot over the past 5 or so years. By having that support I was able to change how I felt about being able to talk about problems, but this time in a more positive way. Although I still struggle with mental health issues, I'm able to use that experience to help and give advice, and hopefully to get people to talk.

Talking helps, whether it be simply asking people you know or just talking about what you know, the more people talk the faster the stigma will end. Simply starting a conversation with someone can really help them to feel more at ease, accepted by others, and what I found most important not alone. There is nothing worse that feeling like you're alone, and if you're suffering remember that approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience mental health issues each year. It's difficult at times to remember, but you're not alone, and by simply talking you can help others feel less alone too.

Let's end the stigma around mental health, together.

Em x

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