This extract is taken from an interview with @Social_anx, a Twitter page sharing relatable stories, polls and anonymous submissions about social anxiety:
“Stigma is the thing that stops you from being open about your struggles. Rarely does anyone feel embarrassed telling someone that they broke their arm or caught a cold, but so few people will call into work sick because of their mental health.
I’ve pushed on through difficult times rather than seeking help because I’ve worried that people will snigger behind my back and call me crazy; I’ve made up excuses for my behaviour rather than admitting that my social anxiety is the cause. Only recently have I begun to be more open about it, and so far have received nothing but support from family, friends and colleagues.
I’ve grown up around others with mental health disorders, and the most disappointing reaction I’ve seen from people is a kind of attitude of disgust, that look of “stay away, it might be catching.” This seems to be more common towards people experiencing symptoms of psychosis, which I find particularly disappointing because it shows a real lack of understanding of the severe emotional distress that that person is going through.
There needs to be more discussion. I think we’ve already come a long way to reducing the stigma, and the more that people talk about their experiences, the more others will feel able to step forward and seek the support they need. It certainly helps when a person is brave enough to start the discussion about their mental health, and they’re met with openness and non-judgemental, practical methods of support.
I believe that everyone should be encouraged to talk about their mental health, whether they feel they have any issues or not. Just as you might be given offered a routine physical check-up at your doctors, everyone should be encouraged to consider their mental wellbeing. I see mental health as a spectrum, and any one person might move up and down that spectrum throughout the course of their life.”
Read more of my interview with social_anx: “Remove the Blame”: Interview on Social Anxiety & Mental Health |
What is your experience of mental health stigma?