It’s time to talk

Do you know someone with a mental health problem? If your answer was anything other than “yes”, then the chances are they may be too afraid of the stigma surrounding mental health to be open about their illness.

The fact is, every year, one in four of us will suffer from a mental health problem. Sometimes, it may be a short-term problem, like anxiety, depression or stress. Alternatively, it may be an illness which they will have for the rest of their life, like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Either way, the odds are that someone you pass in the street, work with or are related to is suffering, has suffered or will suffer from a mental health problem.

Approximately one in every twelve of us will suffer from depression, while the self-harm rate in the UK is the highest in Europe, where 1 in every 250 people self-harm. And the effects are not limited to those who have been given the diagnosis; their friends, family and even work colleagues can be directly or indirectly affected.

Yet, despite the facts, almost nine in every ten people with mental health problems report that stigma has a negative effect on their lives. Stigma from society, family, friends and work colleagues can deter people from seeking the help that they need, impede their recovery or even worsen their condition.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, where people are encouraged to find out more about mental health problems in a bid to reduce the stigma and increase the support available to those who need it most. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of – and neither is talking about it. Even taking five minutes to find out more from Time to Change could help you understand more about many of the common mental health problems and offer advice on how to support those around you who may be affected.

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