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Stigma

Mental Health Awareness is a term that has become part of everyday discussion, it's amazing that people are trying to de-stigmatise mental health and talk about it like we would talk about physical health. The problem is when reducing stigma the focus is often on disorders such as anxiety and depression; this is probably because they are disorders that are easier to understand by those who don't struggle with their mental health.


There is still a lot of mental health stigma, especially around disorders that are harder to understand. Disorders such as Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Schizophrenia, Dissociative Identity Disorder and many others are less commonly talked about because they are difficult to understand if you aren't experiencing them first hand, there are often many elements of disorders such as these that people don't feel comfortable talking about.


Issues such as suicide and self harm are often taboo and therefore cause people who struggle with these issues more shame. We often hear debate about when it is appropriate for people to show self harm scars, ideally, this shouldn't be an issue. We don't shame people for their surgery scars, each show suffering however because it's more difficult to understand self harm, it becomes an issue for people to be exposed to it.


Stigma surrounds all mental health issues in some way however, personality disorders in particular take a lot of heat. It is easier for people to understand mood disorders because everyone experiences changes in their moods, and mood disorders are more easily treatable. When people hear of personality disorders they think of serial killers and axe murderers. Some people feel that a personality disorder is the responsibility of the patient and that its something that could be controlled by the person. However, personality disorders are equally as valid and as painful as mood disorders and people who suffer with them should be treated as such.


Physical health is something that is universally recognised as valid, allows for time of work and people are catered towards in order to aid them in everyday life. However, unfortunately this cannot be said for mental health. De-stigmatisation should be striving for mental health to be part of everyday life just as physical health is, we should be able to talk about it as such. People should be able to have time of work for mental health because it is equally valid and important as physical health.


I think that mental health awareness is so important, but I don't think it should just be about being able to cry or talk about your anxiety or depression. I think mental health awareness should be about it being able to talk about any aspect of mental health as easily as they would their physical health. People should no longer have to be shamed for taking medication or having therapy. We need to be able not to say "I have a doctors appointment" and replace it with "I am going to therapy" and there be no difference in the reaction.


We should not feel ashamed of our mental health, we struggle enough in general life, we don't also need to fight for the validity of our illnesses.

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