The more I work in the field of mental health, the more I see how widely it is misunderstood. If I think about it, makes a lot of sense. Unless you have personally struggled it is hard to understand why someone would be in such distress or would contemplate taking their life for example. Mental health is one of the most significant aspects of human well-being and despite efforts to raise awareness, mental health is still stigmatised by a large section of the population. Often, when we don't understand, we judge. And even if we don't judge, this still leaves those who are experiencing mental health issues feeling isolated and unsupported by those around them. One of the biggest misunderstandings about mental health is that it is a sign of weakness. Many people believe that if someone is struggling with their mental health, it is because they are not strong enough to handle their life. This belief is entirely untrue and can be damaging to those who are struggling. Mental health problems do not discriminate. If you are human you will struggle at times. It can and will affect everyone, regardless of their strength or character. Another common misunderstanding about mental health is that it is a choice. Some people believe that individuals who suffer from anxiety or depression are simply choosing to feel that way. This belief can lead to blaming the victim, as people may think that the individual could choose to be happy if they tried hard enough, did more self care, set more boundaries, worked less or more. In reality, mental health problems are caused by genetic, biological, and environmental factors that are often beyond an individual's control. It is essential to recognize that mental health problems can affect anyone, regardless of their background or life experiences. No one chooses to have a mental health problem, and it is crucial to provide support. It is essential to recognize that mental health problems can affect anyone, regardless of their background or life experiences. Stigma and shame are also significant issues that can prevent people from seeking help for their mental health problems. Many individuals may feel embarrassed or ashamed to admit that they are struggling with their mental health, fearing that they will be judged or labelled, by others or even themselves. This stigma can be particularly damaging for men who are taught to "toughen up" and not to express their emotions. This social conditioning can prevent men from seeking help, leading to problems at work, in their relationships and more. There is a higher rate of suicide in males. Finally, the lack of understanding around mental health can lead to a lack of support for those who need it. Many people may not recognize the signs of mental health problems or may not know how to provide support. They don’t know what to say or do to help as they, themselves, are uncomfortable talking about emotions. This can leave individuals feeling isolated and alone, furthering the problem. This is why we have to raise awareness of mental health issues and to provide education on how to provide support others. We are all human. We all struggle.
~ Laura, Clinical Therapist
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