The Internal Struggle is Real - Why Mental Health Needs to be a Priority.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

When you break a bone you are sent to the hospital for x-rays, you have a cast put on for a number of months and you sometimes have to have physiotherapy too. Can you imagine if during the incident in which you broke your arm or leg bone your sports coach, teacher, family member or boss told you to get over it or just carry on as normal, that you’d be fine and over it in a week or so. I’m pretty sure you and anyone else in the vicinity would be pretty shocked at that response.
The sad thing is, many of those phrases are things that people who struggle with or suffer from mental health illnesses or disorders hear on a regular basis. According to mental health charity Mind, 1 in 4 people in the UK will struggle with a mental health problem (Source). To break that down, I have 920 friends on Facebook, by those statistics over 200 of my Facebook friends have, or will have struggled with their mental health at some point in their life. According to the World Bank there is over 65 million people in the UK, according to the statistics from Mind, if my maths is correct, that means that over 16 million people in the UK will struggle with their mental health. And that, in my opinion, is a huge amount of people!

If someone has broken a bone you can see them wearing a cast. If someone has asthma you will regularly see them using an inhaler. If someone has diabetes you will see them having insulin injections. However if someone is struggling with a mental health illness, 90% of the time you cannot tell from the outside. Mental health illnesses are internal and unseen, and because of this they can unfortunately seem or be regarded as less of a problem or priority than physical illnesses; even by some medical professionals.  

I recently found out that in my local area of Stoke on Trent if someone is struggling with their mental health and wishes to seek treatment through a form of counselling it can take at least 4 months for them to get an initial appointment. But if you break a bone you head over to A&E and usually get seen in under 5 hours, with 4 hours being the target set by the government for all A&E visits. Breaking a bone is not usually life threatening, however mental health illnesses can be. According to Mind, 20 in 100 people will struggle with suicidal thoughts, 6 out of 100 people will attempt suicide, and 8 out of 100 people will live with a mix of anxiety and depression. In their annual report the Samaritans have found that over 6,500 people committed suicide in the UK and ROI in 2015 (Source). I wonder how many of those people may still be alive if they’d had access to support, therapy or treatment faster or more regularly, or if they’d been taken seriously when they asked for help or opened up to people. Breaking a bone isn’t usually life threatening, however the deterioration of someone’s mental health definitely can be.

In this 21st century, ultra-connected, social media age people have become very good at showcasing the life and story they want you to see and believe. Someone may look like they’re having the best month ever, when in reality they’re really struggling or suffering. Or just because your family member had a smile on their face when they visited for dinner last week doesn’t mean everything is ok. 

The phrase, “Be kind, for everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about” is one that I say and think about regularly. And is one that is absolutely true! You can never truly know what someone is walking with or dealing with on a daily basis, because mental health illnesses are an internal struggle, an internal unseen problem.  Telling someone they should just pull themselves together, or stop being daft is the most unhelpful and inconsiderate thing you can say. When talking about a friend, relative or colleague you say you just want to shake them or slap them, to make them snap out of their mental health illness, this is an extremely unloving and unkind thing. I only say that last part as about a month ago I heard some family members talking about someone openly dealing with mental health problems and those where the exact words they said, to say I was disgusted isn’t even close!

Battling your own brain or thoughts on a daily basis is extremely difficult, and to anyone struggling from a mental health illness, you are a badass, brave and an absolute boss and I tip my hat to you. To those with friends, family or work mates who are struggling, love them and love them hard. Please don’t call them names or tell them just to snap out of it! Drive them to doctors’ appointments, ask them if they’d like to go out for cake, allow them the time and space to open up in their own time. And to the government and those who allocate funding, you’re letting far too many people down!
So yes, this is a 21 year old graduate calling you out and saying things need to change! You need to change and realise that you can't just shove problems under the rug and hope they'll go away, because I don't think this one is going anywhere, although I do wish it was. 

Love
God Bless 
1 comment on "The Internal Struggle is Real - Why Mental Health Needs to be a Priority. "
  1. This post is really important! I suffer from Ulcerative Colitis which is known as an invisible illness as I look perfectly well to the world even though on the inside my body is attacking itself. Mental Health has played a huge role in my life since my diagnosis as living with a condition day to day is very debilitating on my mental health. Luckily, I've received the support I've needed and I know there is a strong link between my physical and mental conditions but for some I know thats not the case. I really think more needs to be done to prioritise mental health as I have learnt over this past year that it is just as important as your physical health and our society needs to realise that!

    Lucy Jane | Infinity of Fashion

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Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless...