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Talking about mental health

Updated on September 2, 2015

Mental health issues at a glance

Mental illness refers to disorders that affect our mood and though patterns, which in turn, impact our behavior. Mental health disorders come in many forms, such as; Depression, Bi-polar disorder, Anxiety, Bulimia nervosa and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD, just to name a few. Earlier this year, the World Health Organisation performed a systematic review of data regarding prevalent mental health issues in European countries and compiled a short list of statistics.The results showed that 1 in 15 people will suffer from a severe form of depression each year in an E.U country alone. When you include anxiety and other forms of depression, this figure rises to 4 out of 15. This is a staggering amount when you consider all the people you interact with on a daily basis. So if such issues are so widespread, why are they so hard to talk about?

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Stigma is considered to be a form of prejudice and discrimination, widely suffered by those struggling with mental health issues. Fear of such discrimination can deter those silently fighting a battle with a disorder from speaking out and seeking help. The thought of a loved one or friend struggling silently with such a thing is a terrible thing, but sadly it is a reality for many men and women. Stigma and the fear of speaking out is most prevalent among males and countries/cultures with a "macho" persona. Living with the social pressure to be stoic and to be unaffected by such things as mental health can wreak havoc on a persons emotions and cause them to bury these problems where they do nothing but grow and take a greater toll in years to come.

Finding your voice

When you hold in a silent cry for so long, you become more and more afraid of how those around you will react when it is released. People can be hesitant to cause a stir, but a stir is just what is needed. The opinion of mental health needs a complete overhaul and luckily, people are beginning to wake up to this fact. Recently, a close friend of mine spoke out his struggle with an anxiety disorder. Ger had been dealing with the ups and downs associated with anxiety for some time, but found the courage to take a huge step towards taking back control. And despite any fears he may have had about speaking out, he was met with waves of love and support from friends and family. This should be hugely encouraging to those who also need to speak out and make their voices heard. There are wonderful resources emerging globally for people who need to speak out and it is becoming easier to find an ear to listen, whether it is on the other end of a phone, in a chat room, or a friend or loved one.

The cost of silence

There are serious consequences for those who cannot find a way to speak out and ask for help. Almost 90% of those who commit suicide have been dealing with a psychiatric disorder, and over 50% of those had no record of seeking help (Facts taken from www.Stopasuicide.org). There are other causes of suicide, but mental issues dominate the statistics.

Depression is swiftly becoming an epidemic. So much so that the World Health Organisation predicts that by 2020, Depression will become the second most common cause of disability, following heart disease.If this is true and there is no change in the acceptance of mental health, this suggests a very grim and troubling future. Suicide has become one of the leading causes of death among developed countries and if there is no change, the numbers will continue to climb. Silence indeed comes with a cost, one which is both preventable and unacceptable.

There is also a financial cost to poor mental health. I recently read a report from back in 2006, where an Irish economical review estimated that poor mental health cost the country approximately €3BN that year alone.1 That is a staggering amount. But when you break it down and consider all the sick days, treatments, poor work performance and accidents, every little cost adds up. Talking about your mental and emotional health will not only benefit you, but also contribute to greater social and economic prosperity. Employers should value the health and well being of their employees, not only as a means of improving productivity, but also on the basis that these individuals are not just a workforce. Each name tag, office member and manager has a story which should be respected.


As with any health program, the earlier it is implemented into a persons life, the more success it will have. If schools were to have a program to promote positive mental health among its students, it would not only promote awareness of disorders, but also, promote a healthy attitude towards discussing these tricky issues. Its simple, if a child is raised to feel uncomfortable talking about a topic, he or she will carry this trend into adulthood. Responsibility also lies with the parents to encourage a more honest and open environment in regards to their emotions and mentality. But as children come to school to learn and to grow alongside their peers, it is the perfect setting to provide the encouragement they need.

With the current stress and pressures on students to achieve high grades, this can sometimes prove too much for a youth to handle. While most schools do have a counselor on the premises, students can be hesitant to make an approach. Students should be encouraged to look after their emotional health, especially when it comes close to exam time. And of course, exams are not the only pressure a student may be dealing with. Bullying, anxiety and peer pressure are all part of the student experience.

Time for change.

Highlighting the need for change is the easy part. Creating change however, is a little more difficult. That responsibility ultimately falls to us. If we as a generation can change the opinion of mental health disorder, then this will ensure a brighter future for generations to come. The world is ours to inherit and we have a huge say in what kind of world that will be. Instead of forcing people to fight silent battles alone, we can work towards a time where we support and encourage those who need it.

If you have something you need to speak about I sincerely hope you take that step in confiding in someone, and no matter what your reason, thank you for taking the time to read this short piece.

Just a quick informative poll

Have you ever struggled with something but felt you couldn't share it?

See results

Reference:

1; Pg 2 - http://www.oireachtas.ie/parliament/media/housesoftheoireachtas/libraryresearch/spotlights/spotWellbeing280212_101701.pdf

© 2015 Sean Gorman

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    • John Kelly28 profile image

      John Kelly 2 years ago from Sheffield

      The thought of having to endure something is often the worst part. But nothing can be resolved without taking the first step

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      It is not easy to speak out about our troubling emotions. I did not myself until the suicidal thoughts could no longer be ignored. When I went to my doctor about them, I was immediately admitted into the mental health unit. It is one of the most difficult experiences I have ever had, but it was also the most beneficial. I found out more about myself and my depression and anxiety than I would have in any other way. I learned that I needed to speak out and say how I felt if I wanted things to change.

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