2014. I am diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa.
The first words out of my mouth to my mum “Please don’t tell dad. I don’t want anyone to know.”
Shame. I was ashamed. I felt guilty and responsible. I thought others would judge me. Some probably did. But, ashamed? That is never something someone should feel for having a problem they have no choice about. It’s cliched to say, but would I have felt guilty over a broken arm? Absolutely not. So the same should be applied here.
But. Mental illness is not viewed as equal to physically illness.
We shy away from mental illness. We push it into the background and refuse to acknowledge it’s presence. Employees are afraid of what companies may say. Employers are worried about how they should act.
You can quote all the statistics in the world about the percentage of disease due to mental health (28%) versus the NHS budget for mental health (13%), and the inevitable impact this has on accessing care. This often falls on deaf ears.
Yes, mental health NEEDS more money. It also needs more talking. It needs more acceptance. Maybe if more people can be open and share their experiences, if they can talk freely about treatment they’ve had or people they’ve seen, maybe others will feel safe to do the same.
So, don’t stay silent. Mental health is very real and the reality? Silence can kill.