19 December 2018

What you should learn about Mental Health Issues

1 in 4 adults and 1 in 5 children in the UK have mental health problems. This means in a team of 12 at work, 3 colleagues are suffering from mental health issues. In a class of 25 at school, 5 children are battling with their mental health. Most of us will walk past someone in the street or come into contact with someone who has a mental condition whether it be anxiety, depression or many others.
26% of people who have these struggles have said that the stigma attached to their mental health has made them want to give up.

As a sufferer of mental health problems myself, it aggravates me, to say the least, that still today sufferers can go into work, start a new job, walk into school, meet new people and it be almost guaranteed that most people will not think before judging, before speaking and before assuming.

From my experience, whenever I have started a new job, most of the employees I worked with had a problem with me simply because I was a little more reserved then the majority, a bit quieter and generally anxious. Day in day out they refused to sympathise but instead decided to harass me for what is essentially my personality, and things I have tried but failed at changing my whole life. Comments like 'she doesn't talk' and 'do you even want to be here' occurred each day. Even my manager, who to even be able to have that title should be able to empathise (by definition put himself in someone else's shoes), was aggressive and not at all understanding.

Additionally, in another job, my managers gathered together in a circle and discussed me in the middle of the store. Not only is this completely unprofessional, it is rude and unnecessary. Long story short my manager tried to make something up as a reason to get rid of me because I was 'quiet' and made no attempt to support me.

In my most recent job, I was finally feeling comfortable in my job for the first time, as I had a supportive manager (he knew me and my family) and then a few weeks into the job, numerous staff made comments about me behind my back about my lack of communication such as 'I don't like her because I think its weird that she doesn't really say anything' and 'She's always miserable'. There was a girl who felt the need to continuously give me dirty looks every time she saw me.

Nobody in any of these jobs knew me personally and never took the time to get to know me, they had no real reason not to like me.
So yes - people should have a basic understanding of mental health in the UK.
It is 2017 and I don't know whether to blame society or individuals. In my mind this is a constant battle. However, individuals make up a society. You and I make society. Don't leave it up to others to educate you on this subject, take it upon yourself to become knowledgeable of those around you. People tend to rid themselves of responsibility when it is something that could make them appear in a negative way. For example, those of you reading this post may have thoughts like ‘I am empathetic' and ‘this doesn’t apply to me’ and ‘if I met someone with a mental health problem, I would be understanding’. However, you could be completely unaware of your behaviour or the impact of your words.
  • Try not to judge before you get to know people
  • If someone is quiet, it doesn’t always mean that they are rude/arrogant
  • Do not assume people with mental health issues are weak or incapable
  • Do not talk badly about others in the workplace/school
  • Put yourself in others shoes - how would you feel?
  • If you know someone is suffering, maybe give them a smile? Or even just say hi.

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