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STUDENT BLOG

'Let's share what we see in mental health. It's the only way to progress'

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It is important to talk about things that either scare or make us feel uncomfortable or awkward - particularly when people are involved

Let’s face it, in most places, it’s still not okay to talk openly about your depression or anxiety. I dread to imagine the reaction someone with schizophrenia may face after, for example, their work colleagues found out.

I am fully aware I’m generalising here - there will be exceptions. However, I hope we can agree that this is true for most places, whether at work or school, in social situations or in public.

This needs to change.

“Still, it’s important to remember that the most important word of those five is ‘people’. Maybe one day that’s the only word we’ll need to use”

Within the general mental health conversation, the phrase ‘people with mental health issues’ is a current favourite and possibly the least offensive reference so far. Still, it’s important to remember that the most important word of those five is ‘people’. Maybe one day that’s the only word we’ll need to use.

It’s fairly widely accepted that human beings have inhabited the Earth for around 100,000 years. In that time, there will have been every type of person you could imagine and countless social constructs with their own norms and obscurities, likes and dislikes, rituals, beliefs and practices. It just so happens that in our current construct, at this time, people who have experiences that fall into a classification system that we invented have become outcast and ridiculed.

”It just so happens that in our current construct, at this time, people who have experiences that fall into a classification system that we invented have become outcast and ridiculed”

In some cultures people who hear voices are considered gifted and blessed with an ability to channel other-worldly spirits. In others, people are encouraged to openly express their emotions and share their feelings with other members of their society in order to work through them and connect with other people on a deeper level rather than being labelled as weak or attention-seeking.

You see, the only thing that is constant between cultures is these experiences, not the way they are viewed by the society.

So what’s really more acceptable? For me, arbitrary societal perspectives don’t come out very well.

What’s more, human beings seem to value entertainment value over most other things. Whether it’s a hilarious stumble and fall on You’ve Been Framed or a story about a so-called dangerous’ lunatic in the Daily Mail, people can very easily block their ability to empathise as long as they are having a laugh.

“I don’t think the public is to blame. News corporations are in large part at fault as they persist with blatantly skewed reports of mental illness”

With something like mental health, their ideas and impressions can be heavily influenced by a narrative that still favours a 1950s horror movie portrayal of someone with a mental illness. Unfortunately though, this dramatised picture is more entertaining over breakfast than an accurate account.

Just to be clear, I don’t think the public is to blame. News corporations are in large part at fault as they persist with blatantly skewed reports of mental illness. Further, much more effort and finances needs to be put into educating people on mental health itself.

The main message of any public broadcasting platform should be the following: though we all see the world in our own way, we are very much the same, so let’s share what we see and how we think, and thereby progress together.

Tom King is a current student nurse.

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