It's Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. Mental Health issues are often the "elephant in the room" - we all know people who have been affected, but we might not realise because it's a taboo subject. But it needn't be.
Let's break this down using some facts and figures from the UK Department of Health:
- 1 in 4 people will have a mental health issue at some point in their lives. That means you already know people who have been affected
- 9 out of 10 sufferers experience stigma and discrimination
- People with mental health issues are more likely to become victims of violence (not cause it).
People with a diagnosis won't necessarily ask friends for help and support. They may be afraid of discrimination, or they may even be in denial. Of those who do reach out to friends, some will be pushed back because their friends are afraid of saying the wrong thing.
If you're a friend in this situation, please keep the friendship going as normally as possible. It is almost always appreciated. If you're stuck for words, the web site Time To Change has ideas and e-cards that you can use to strike up a conversation.
After all, you never know if you'll be the 1 in 4 next time.
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Image copyright © 2008 Time To Change, used with permission,