As a hockey club we wont give up until support and respect for mental illness are the norms in our community. That is why this World Mental Health Day we want to call for a change to the way we talk about mental illness.
We are a family Club and we want our members and friends to feel supported and safe. We would like to encourage you to join us and share this message online, remember to use #WorldMentalHealthDay
There is no health without mental health.
Therefore it needs to be given the same attention and respect physical health receives. Often this is not the case.
1 in 4 people in the UK experience a mental illness every year (Time to Change 2019). Just like physical conditions mental health problems are treatable and deserve care, however, many don’t access help because of the stigmas attached to having a mental illness.
As with any physical illness, unless you open up and share what is going on with your mental health, no one can give you the treatment or care you need. 60% of people with a mental health problem wait over a year to begin to tell people close to them due to stigma attached to having a mental illness, however (Time to Change 2019).
We need to remove the stigma around mental health so that people are able to be as open about their mental health conditions as they are about having the flu, so they can receive the treatment and care they need, now!
If you tune into any conversation about mental illness it won’t be long until the term stigma comes up. Stigma has various definitions, but they all refer to disrespectful, unfair, or discriminatory patterns in how we think, feel, talk and behave towards individuals experiencing a mental illness. These thoughts, feelings and behaviours cause those with mental health problems to perceive that they will not be accepted due to their illness and will be treated negatively. This in turn stops them seeking and receiving the help they need. Just like physical problems without care mental illness gets worse, resulting in deepening conditions, suicidal thoughts and social isolation.
This is obviously not ok. But what can we do?
Remove the stigma that mental illness defines people and is who they are.
Don’t say, “He’s depressed”, “He’s bipolar” or “She’s schizophrenic.” People are people, not diagnoses. You wouldn’t say “He’s flu”, “She’s broken leg”. Instead, say, “He has depression”, “He has a bipolar disorder” or “She has schizophrenia.” This is known as “person-first” language and it recognises that the illness doesn’t define the person and will be treated.
Remove the stigma that mental illness is the person’s fault
You wouldn’t tell someone to just “buckle down” and “get over” cancer. The same applies to mental illness. Don’t blame the person. Don’t tell them to “Man up”. Provide support and reassurance when you know someone is having difficulty managing an illness. Recognise they are struggling.
Be a role model.
Model stigma-reducing strategies through your own behaviour and teach them to others. Changing attitudes takes time, but repetition is the key, so keep getting the word out to bring about a positive shift in how we treat others.
It’s usually easier to take a look at ourselves first before we try to change the rest of the world. Reflect on how you can help reduce mental health stigma. Let us put an end to the stigma that surrounds mental health and work hand in hand for a safer and inclusive society.
There is more you can do! This year’s World Mental Health Day theme is suicide prevention. Every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide. That is why the World Health Organisation have launched their campaign “40 seconds of action” to encourage us all to take some time to start a conversation that could save a life, including our own.
Do you know someone that has been struggling, someone who has taken a hit and needs some help, someone that you are worried about? Reach out to them, take 40 seconds to start a conversation and let them know that you are there for them. We want to spread a message of togetherness and encourage people to be there for each other. Today, tell someone you love them, HUG someone, TEXT someone, SMILE at someone!