There is no Shame in Mental Illness

Mental illnesses are conditions that affect our cognitive and emotional processes i.e. our thoughts, emotions and, behaviours. Mental health problems are as common as physical health problems. In fact, all of us are likely to suffer with a mental health condition at some point of our life e.g. stress or anxiety. And, its OK.

According to a 2021 healthcare study by the NHS, 1 in 4 people experience some kind of mental health problem each year in the UK. The following are the most common mental health issues in any given week:

  1. Mixed anxiety and depression. (affects 8 in 100 people)
  2. Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) (affects 6 in 100 people)
  3. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (affects 4 in 100 people)
  4. Depression (affects 3 in 100 People)
  5. Eating disorders
  6. Phobias
  7. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  8. Panic disorder.

There are also more complex scenarios such as antisocial personality disorders and psychosis. According to that same survey, more and more children and young people are experiencing mental illness (1 in 6).

While many people now say mental health issues and mental disorders are nothing to be ashamed of, there still seems to be a social stigma associated with mental illness which in this day and age is quite frankly, a nonsense. The challenge with mental illness was that information and knowledge to aid understanding was not freely available and unlike physical illness, the symptoms are not blatantly visible or obvious. People did not fully understand what mental illness was or how to relate and deal with people who suffered from it. I was one of those people when it affected someone I was close to and who mattered to me.

Maybe the shame we experience stems from this lack of understanding. There is now so much more information available from reputable websites and organisations which is excellent, providing of course, we do not start to self-diagnose! Today there is more access to support and people who can give expert advise such as our GPs and other healthcare professionals and of course, counsellors and therapists here at Yew Tree Counselling. Sometimes, we neglect to make good use of these resources.

And, there are that brave group that live with mental illness, who are prepared to share their experiences, their stories on VLOGs (check YouTube) and discussion Blogs like this which helps provide a better understanding of mental health issues.

I also think sometimes that the labels used by our mental health profession can be make us feel uncomfortable and unfortunately, instil an element of shame e.g. while I appreciate the importance of making a diagnoses, I feel the word ‘disorder’ can sometimes create unwanted and unnecessary connotations.

At the end of the day, it is always good to talk with someone about your mental wellbeing and get clarity and better understanding. It won’t only remove any feelings of shame and uncertainty but, might just open a door to your own recovery and a better life.

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