Mental health issues? It’s time for some respect
You wouldn’t dismiss someone with a broken leg, so why dismiss someone suffering with mental health? A high percentage of those in Britain suffering from a form of mental health disorder are too scared to speak out, to a medical professional or a family member. What is the reason for this? Katherine Scott says it’s time to talk about it
The popular supermarket Asda released a Halloween costume last year which the retailer’s website described as a ‘mental health patient’. The costume involved white, ragged clothing covered in blood. Accompanying the costume was a fake prop of a meat clever.
The costumes implied that that those who suffer from forms of mental health illnesses such as bi-polar are capable of killing and are ‘evil’. This caused a huge backlash from the public.
It is the kind of move which is encouraging and fuelling a stigma. When in reality, those who are suffering, or have suffered, are no different to anyone else.
People with a mental illness need medical help, to be understood and supported, not laughed at.
The Asda costume could also be looked at from a different perspective, which is just as negative – if not more.
Common Halloween costumes are often witches and zombies. Both of which are fictional and created for story-telling purposes. This could possibly be insinuating that mental health illnesses are myths. Feelings which are felt, and exaggerated by those who have suffered, and are excuses for feeling ‘down’ for a long period of time.
To even consider this as true is disgraceful. Those who have previously dismissed mental health illnesses as being unreal should feel ashamed. There is so much evidence to prove otherwise.
A staggering 40% of those who smoke have a mental illness, according to figures. If the topic of mental health wasn’t so taboo, the number of deaths would drop.
Charities and campaigners such as ‘Mind’ alongside ‘Time to Change’ are continuing to try to change the attitudes of the public, though the old fashioned attitudes of society means this is taking far longer than it should. These charities are trying to encourage people to portray mental health in the correct way.
In doing so, incidents such as Asda’s Halloween costume will hopefully one day be prevented.
This includes a significant rise in funding by the government to widen the public’s access to psychological therapists and an increase in documentaries on the subject of mental health, encouraging the public to think about the issue.
Changing the opinions of the public isn’t easy. However, I feel we will one day live in a society where there is no stigma around mental health. It’s time to talk, and it’s time to change our thoughts.