Working as the lead in Mental Health Dietetics for the NHS constantly lends itself to striving for parity of esteem. I recently read a perfectly written post (link below) explaining how many people treat mental health conditions compared to physical health ones.
While it’s wonderful that we’re finally starting to talk more openly about our mental health, the terminology still perpuates the stigma. We call physical health conditions by their name ‘Cancers’, ‘Largyngitis’ etc. etc. However we call mental health conditions ‘mental health issues’ and all this does is add to the notion that conditions such as anxiety or depression are just that; i.e. ‘issues’. When we suffer anxiety for instance, we don’t just worry a tad or get a little stressed. It’s a level above general everyday worry however I’ve overheard colleagues say to other colleagues ‘You don’t seem like an anxious person’ like this very real and diagnosable disorder is just a characteristic.
Mental health illnesses such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders are not directly mood, behaviour or more importantly, choices. Anorexia Nervosa is the most fatal of all psychiatric disorders and is as serious illness and as potentially fatal as any serious physical condition.
The less we understand and stigmatise mental health, the more people suffer in silence unnecessarily.
Treating people with kindness and understanding and not taking things at face value if someone seems out of character may help empower someone to talk about why they may be behaving in a certain way. The ‘ostrich effect’ has little place in mental health and talking therapy is widely used as the most effective treatment.
You never know the impact you could have on someone’s life by asking “Are you ok?”.
#MentalHealth #TimeToChange #EndStigma