Conversations save lives. Conversations really are the most effective way of dealing with the mental health crisis we currently have in this country. Talking openly and honestly about mental health helps reduce the stigma around mental illness. Not only does it contribute to reducing the stigma, but it also enables sufferers to seek aid and support they need. It gives them the confidence to get help when they need it the most. To no longer suffer in silence.
If this is so, why are so many petrified to have those life changing conversations? Why do so many remain mute about their mental health? Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about, so why does society perpetuate that is? Sufferers stay in the closet, if you like because they are so afraid of talking openly about their mental health for fear of appearing weak or cowardly.
This needs to stop! We are currently not talking about mental health enough. We need to keep talking, chatting and having those important conversations to normalise mental illness, so it's not seen as abnormal or perceived as being inferior or weak. I'm going to keep shouting about my mental health until discrimination and inequality for the mentally ill is a thing of the past.
Time To Change; Time To Talk day which takes place on Thursday 2nd February is raising awareness of the need to get the nation talking, so the conversation keeps going around the clock. Too many people are made to feel worthless or ashamed by negative reactions they receive when they tell people about their mental health problems. It doesn't have to be difficult. Take a walk with someone, make a cup of tea, let them talk about how they are feeling and make sure they know you're there to listen.
There is a lot of horror stories out there about people who have told someone they trusted about their mental illness, and instead of being accepted, supported and understood as they hoped, they are rejected or made to feel ridiculous. I want to share a personal story of one conversation about mental health that really did change my life.
When I started college, I knew that I would have to tell my tutor about my OCD because I would be missing lessons to go to CBT therapy. However, when I had this conversation, I wasn't particularly bad. I was happy and optimistic about starting college and making friends. It wasn't till about a month later where I went through a bad episode of my depression and OCD, which started one of the most important conversations I've ever had regarding my mental health.
When I was chatting to my tutor about my OCD, how it affected my life etc. I didn't expect he would understand or know much about OCD. Maybe he would just think it was a simple fear of germs or that I like organising. I was scared I was going to get rejected and that I wasn't going to be taken seriously. It turns out I couldn't have been further away from the truth.
There's me thinking he would know nothing or not understand the reality of obsessive compulsive disorder. When in actual fact he looked after a student last year who had chronic OCD just like me. He understands, and he knew what it was like. Retrospectively there was nothing for me to be apprehensive about. Although everyone's OCD manifests itself in different ways, the reality of OCD for its sufferers is very much the same, and he understood this.
I now get the support and care I need to complete my studies the best that I can and get the most out of college life. Without having this conversation, none of this would have been possible. I would have remained mute struggling with my mental health. I am so thankful for having this important conversation about my mental health. Without it, who knows where I would have been now? Talking about mental health doesn't have to be scary. It just takes 20 seconds of courage for life-changing things to happen.
By sharing my story, of a particularly positive response to talking about mental health, I hope that I've encouraged at least one person to talk openly about their mental health and have that conversation. I can't guarantee that it's going to be positive but what I can guarantee is that without trying you will never know and will remain in the same position that you are now.
Thanks for reading, as always X
You can find out more about Time To Change's Time To Talk Day HERE