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Stigma, Discrimination and Mental Health.


 
1 in 4 people in the UK will suffer with a mental illness. 

 
 
In 1994 I went to LA  for a girls holiday, it was one of the best holidays ever.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Although I experienced a number of wonderful things, such as Venice beach, meeting celebrities, partying etc, one situation that really stood out for me occurred when a couple decided they would give us a lift to the beach.  Whilst in the car, the couple disclosed to my friends and I that they had experienced a number of problems in their lives and had received therapy to curtail them.

Upon leaving the vehicle and thanking the heavens that this couple had not murdered us, my friends and I talked about how candid this couple had been about their past struggles with drug addiction and use of therapy.
Now 19 years have passed, I'm a qualified therapist and the couples disclosure has even more significance to me.  I applaud and embrace their overt discourse regarding mental health and therapy.

However, here's the question, how likely are you to tell someone that you are in therapy or suffering from a mental illness?

The stigma that is attached to mental illness and therapy is still prevalent in British society.  I believe that more needs to be done to stop this epidemic.  It remains tacit and the need to talk about the myths that surround mental health is necessary.
 
Campaigns such as  time-to-change, a collaborative venture with Mind, Rethink and funded by the Department of Health are avidly working upon eliminating the stigma and discrimination attached to mental illness.  They drive their message home through various means such as ads, pledges from celebrities and lay people and candid blogs written by those living with a mental illness.
 

 
As a qualified therapist, at SW11 Counselling, clients that have talked about their mental health often highlight the  fear of talking about it  with friends/family members; they express concerns about the possible rejection/blame they may experience if they do disclose to significant others, employers or educational providers.

Let's review those statistics again.  1 in 4 UK residents will experience a mental health issue. In 2012 the estimated population in the UK was 63.7 million, thus it could be surmised that 15.9 million people that reside in the UK would have suffered from a mental health issue last year.  That is a considerable amount of people who not only feel debilitated by their mental health, but also by society.

How likely are you to tell someone that you have a mental health issue?
Could you be as candid as the American couple were 19 years ago?

Thanks for reading this blog and as always your comments are welcomed.

26 Comments to Stigma, Discrimination and Mental Health. :

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Biscuit on 08 November 2013 16:23
I enjoyed reading this post as always. You asked "How likely are you to tell someone". I guess for most people, especially British people, not very likely is the answer. The follow on question might be, if you did tell someone, who would it be. Could telling the "wrong" person, be damaging. Let's say you tell your overworked GP on a bad day. They say "nothing to worry about it's just a something everyone has, go away"... If a figure in authority tells you that you're wrong you may well believe them. And having screwed up the courage to overcome the fear of talking about the problem, may never dare to speak to anyone else again. So who would you say would be a good starting point to talk to?
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Antoinette on 02 January 2014 14:58
Glad you enjoyed reading this blog. Interesting question that you brought up..."initiating this conversation...." I would suggest that talking to a GP would be a great place to start, however, if you have a GP that is overworked or unsympathetic, then who? Talking to someone that you trust, I.e. a close friend really helps. Sometimes just expressing your concerns out loud to a friend, rather than internally to yourself, makes a real difference. You may find that they have been in a similar position or know someone that has. Alternatively, contacting several therapist by telephone or email will also be a good starting point. I have been contacted by numerous clients this way...it secures feedback from a qualified practitioner and is free of charge. For face-to-face initial assessments there is usually a charge, however, some therapist may waiver this. However, I would always suggest that you speak to your GP first. Happy New Year Biscuit!


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