Show me a room full of 100 people, and I will show you 100 people who have almost certainly all, at some point in their life, experienced some form of mental health issue. Maybe not a serious issue and maybe not a constant issue, but the likelihood is that you, me and the next person have all had some tricky moments to manage either in the past – or we’re doing so right now.
You see ‘mental health issue’ covers a whole spectrum of thinking patterns and thought processes and doesn’t only include the more serious conditions such as bi-polar disorder or the various types of personality disorder.
It covers anything ranging from, for example, the relatively minor types of situational distorted thinking such as making automatic assumptions about yourself that are negative and based on no evidence, and mind-reading where you tell yourself what you negatively believe ‘everyone’ thinks about you, through to the more intensive, persistent and recognised states of low self-esteem, anxiety or depression, conditions which are worryingly common and on the increase.
Mental health issues can affect anyone. Literally. There are no boundaries and no protection based on your education, sex or status, and what can start off as a relatively minor challenge such as in the examples above, can soon become a more serious problem if left unchecked and if help isn’t sought.
And because mental health issues are often a hidden disease with no external evidence that someone is struggling, there is far more opportunity for people to suffer in silence and present a false image to the rest of the world that everything is fine, when actually things are far from fine.
Distorted thinking of any kind can so easily, if the conditions are right, escalate and become ruminative thinking where you keep going over and over the same thoughts almost constantly and arriving at the same conclusion (which will be something negative about yourself). This can exacerbate low self-esteem, anxiety or depression and the impact can be devastating and debilitating.
One of the strongest connections you have psychologically is that your thoughts can and will impact directly on how you feel at any given moment. And how you feel, will then be the driver for how you behave and what you do. So whatever you think about on a consistent basis, whatever mental programme you run in the background subconsciously, will impact massively on you and your life.
It’s shocking that at the time of writing, the leading cause of death in men under 50 in the UK is suicide1. Men are at greater risk because evidently, they are less likely to open up about how they feel and to talk through their emotions and struggles. And it’s equally as shocking that, statistically, 72% of people who committed suicide between 2002 and 2012 had no connection at all with mental health professionals before ending their life2.
So why don’t people ask for help?
There will be a number of different factors but one of the key reasons will be because of the stigma of seeking professional help, knowing that from this point onwards, it’s going to be on your health records and you’ll be potentially ‘labelled’ and stigmatised as someone with a ‘mental health issue’.
Why is that?
Surely, this is a failing of the ‘system’ and there must be a solution that allows an individual to seek and get the help they need before it’s too late without them being labelled in this way, which only exacerbates the problem.
This is one of the reasons why there are so many private individuals and organisations that are working so hard to create self-help programmes that really make a difference3 and offer services that individuals can access at any time privately, wherever they are, without needing to go to see their GP or other mental health professional before they can receive the help they so desperately need.
Whilst a visit to your GP or health care professional may still be recommended and necessary, it’s great to know that there are steps you can take to regain control and to empower yourself in the meantime – that don’t rely on anyone else or on medication4.
There is still much work to be done in terms of shifting the consciousness of any society that judges people or draws unhelpful conclusions about people who are battling with their mental health
How can we change it?
Education is the starting point. Society needs to normalise the fact that mental health issues are prevalent and, with the invasive and all-encompassing nature of social media, will be affecting even more people than ever before in years to come unless something changes. Society needs to accept that it’s an everyday occurrence for so many people.
As human beings, we have a responsibility to treat other people with compassion – so that when you communicate with anyone else you look them in the eyes and start from a place of kindness, love and support instead of judgment, fear and superiority – seeing them as a person and human being first, looking beyond any kind of physical or mental challenges they may have.
And finally, society needs more resources to be made available to people who are in mental distress and struggling – and that’s a whole other blog topic!
- Hewlett, E. & Horner, K. (2015). Mental Health Analysis Profiles: OECD Working Paper No. 81. Available at: http://www.oecd.org/officialdocuments/publicdisplaydocumentpdf/?cote=DELSA/HEA/WD/HWP(2015)4&docLanguage=En.
- Free eBook ‘You Are Enough’ available to download at spiritlevelsuccess.com/ebook
- Visit spiritlevelsuccess.com/home for details of the Spirit Level Success™ System – Six Secrets of Self-Esteem which you may find helpful