It’s Mental Health Awareness Day on Tuesday 10th October 2017. A day to raise awareness of mental health. 1 in 4 people every year suffer from mental health problems and more awareness and understanding is needed. But does it actually make any difference-an awareness day? That’s debatable.
For people that suffer with mental health issues like myself, it is not just about being aware for one day. Mental illness can affect people for months, years….and lifetimes. Mental illness is often so misunderstood and stigmatised that it can make the period of suffering, however long or short, very difficult.
There have been numerous occasions over the past few years when I have had abuse shouted at me in the street. “Are you a man?” and “Eat a burger” bellowed at me as I innocently go about my business. It beggars belief that people can think it is acceptable to say thing like that to anybody and it shows a complete lack of understanding of how comments like that can seriously negatively affect people suffering with mental illness, who already have shattered self-esteem and find it difficult to go out in public through fear of people staring or thinking they are different.
But these types of ignorant idiots are not alone. Recently, Amazon put a jumper up for sale with the slogan “ANOREXIA: Like Bulimia but with self-control” – absolutely disgusting, and research found that only 50% of people thought it was necessary for someone with an eating disorder to see a specialist. Seriously?! I wonder how many of those people would be happy to see a foot doctor when they were having serious heart problems? Trouble that could potentially kill them. Would they be happy to see someone who knew in great detail about in-grown toenails but very little about potential heart conditions? Probably not.
But eating disorders (and other mental health issues) continue to be deeply misunderstood, with many thinking a sufferer of anorexia chooses to be that way, that they simply choose not to eat because they want to be thin. And therefore they don’t warrant NHS treatment-they are not worthy of it because their condition is self-inflicted. And this could not be further from the truth. It is an illness of the mind and just like physical illnesses, there is no control over it and it can affect anyone at any time. And just like physical illnesses, it needs specialist treatment.
So is one day enough to make everyone aware and understanding of mental illness? I very much doubt it. It’s a start…but there’s a very long way to go before those with mental illness are not judged or discriminated against and instead shown compassion and an attempt to understand. But this is not to tar everyone with the same brush, many people do try to understand and show sympathy, support and help. And to those people – thank you. and I do appreciate it is very difficult to understand when you haven’t experienced it yourself. But there are still far too many people who are happy to remain blissfully ignorant and don’t want to know about it. I’m trying to help raise awareness and understanding – please help me.
Have a look at this link to see my article to try and start raising awareness and understanding of eating disorders httpss://www.essex-tv.co.uk/chelmsford-woman-opens-struggles-eating-disorder-ahead-mental-health-day/