The more we talk about mental health openly, the more the stigma will be reduced

Claire_'s picImagine breaking your leg, it’s a bad break and you’re in a lot of pain, but you’re afraid to ask for help. It’s only a broken leg right? I mean it hurts like hell and you can barely function, but still, you shouldn’t say anything. Besides, what would everybody think? It’s embarrassing, you’re clearly a weak and unstable person. What if they start questioning your ability to do your job properly, or look after your children? You don’t want to seem like a liability.

Each morning you notice the leg is getting worse, but you don’t want to take a leave of absence from work while it heals, it’s too risky. Instead you just grin and bear it day in and day out until eventually you collapse.

Mental health stigma is not acceptable

This scenario is ridiculous right? I mean, who would go into work with a broken leg? Now insert the words ‘depression’ or ‘anxiety’ in its place. Suddenly the situation becomes more acceptable. But the truth is, it’s NOT. To all the employers out there, if a colleague phoned in work sick with ‘depression’, would you be as understanding as if they’d phone in with a stomach bug? (Oh and let’s be honest, we all know that ‘stomach bug’ means “I’m hungover”)!

Just because you can’t see the damage doesn’t mean that it’s not there.

I was afraid of what others would think

I spent nearly ten years battling anxiety and panic attacks in secret, because I was so afraid of what others would think of me. I felt ashamed and instead punished myself for being so pathetic. “Why couldn’t I just be normal like everyone else?” I thought. As with all health conditions, hiding it simply made it worse and eventually the strain triggered a nervous breakdown. I was signed off work for a month.

The power of truth and talking

Ironically “coming out” and being honest about my anxiety was the best thing I ever did. Never underestimate the power of truth: I felt as though a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I finally accepted how I was feeling and got some much needed help. I was on the path to recovery. Once back at work, being able to be honest with my boss was a huge relief. I would explain that I was having a bad day mentally and that I might seem quieter than normal. Just saying the words out loud took the sting out of the situation.  

Now for someone who has never experienced mental illness I can understand the confusion. But by being willing to talk about it openly is a huge step. Don’t be afraid to ask questions (respectfully) and find out more. Encouraging somebody to talk is like setting the leg in plaster, it will heal faster.

There's nothing to be ashamed of

At the end of the day everyone has a brain, so surely we should all look after our mental health in the same way we do our physical health? Sometimes, we all need a little help. There is nothing to be ashamed of and the more we talk about it openly, the more the stigma will be reduced. That’s why I will be taking part in Time to Talk Day, and it’s why you should join the conversation too. 

You can read Claire's regular blog about anxiety and panic attacks at weallmadhere.com, and follow her on twitter @claireylove

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Comments

Anxiety

It was such a relief to read your post. I'm struggling more and more in life to carry out mundane everyday ordinary tasks. Just getting through any normal event seems harder and harder. I had a job interview set up and was so excited just to have it, only to fail and had such side effects, dizzyness etc I literally couldn't get in the car to to. I'm so dissapointed to be here in life. But I think on looking at everything on this site. I prob do need to face the reality of this. I just thought I was struggling with confidence but my body is going haywire every time I try to push through a new challenge. Loved reading your words anyway, xxx

Anxiety

Hi Arla, Thank you so much for your kind words about my post. I can completely related to your comment. I didn't want to accept what was happening for such a long time, but confronting it was the best thing I ever did. It sounds like you had a panic attack before your interview, (I also sometimes get these) - I wrote a fact sheet about them on my blog. You might find it helpful. Take care xx

Thank you

Thank you got all right but sadly for me I lost my job thought bullied and meath health prombles so voular work wasn't instead just thought mealth health was nuts which is wrong so I left work in charity shop. Now got two new volutar job ( But can't say much about that) I also sign up become Time change champion well done you.

Mental health in absences

Mental Health issues continue to be number one reason for sick absence. the issue is understanding what has caused the periods of poor mental health and how these can be addressed. For example is it as a result of bereavement or relationship issues/divorce or separation? Is it is due to alcohol or drug problems, or money issues? Talking helps but what are the triggers of cause?

Anxiety

Hi Claire, after reading your post I am currently experiencing a lot of symptoms you highlighted. I have recognised that I needed help and I am getting support through counselling. My family and boss have been very understanding and supportive, which is amazing, but when I find things are overwhelming I can't help in feeling that I am letting people down and do worry about what people think, as I haven't made it common knowledge at work, probably due to the stigma attached to mental health. I think I have always had these symptoms, but made the excuse that they are the result of this or that. I just get so annoyed and frustrated with myself and I feel like you outlined, 'why can't I be normal and carry on like others?' I do worry if the situation will improve? But is does hearten me when reading your post of a positive outcome.

Mental Health

The more this subject is talked about, the better things will be. I have suffered with work related stress and depression for several years since being bullied by a manager at work. I ignored my GPs advice to take time off work for over 18 months, thinking I could change the way my employer was treating me. I was a fool! Eventually my GP made it clear that staying at work would probably kill me. I was forced to take time off work; my employer was quick to dismiss me but was forced to compensate me. Looking back, I should have got out years ago. I'm happier and healthier now than I've been for years. Don't ignore the symptoms and please please don't ignore medical advice. Too many people are suffering in silence and too many employers are causing and ignoring mental health problems.

Bullied at work

Bam I was being bullied by a new manager for 7 months..... before my GP signed me off with depression with anxiety.......I have now been off for 6 months & fear going back to more of the same.....The company was quick to turn to an Occupational Health Adviser to try to get me back to work...she claimed I had severe depression & needed counselling & she would arrange this through my work cos It would be quicker than NHS.......I never recieved it & currently getting help through the NHS Wellbeing......6 months later she calls & denies making this promise & changes her advise to me as being fit for work & just needing to talk to my new manager........I am so disappointed that a company as big as this would be so ignorant to an employees mental health issues.......they are now telling me that I can lose my job If I don't return even if I have a GP certificate.......I wish I could just pull myself together I get on with it the way they think I should but I can't . I have to take anxiety medication to get through the door & have a member of my family with me. I'm sure they see mental health as a weakness & just want us to leave.

you not week

I sorry you were bullied at by work at manger If not ready go back work Don't go back work. You not week because strong talk about on here i think that Brave it bullied are week and cowards and don't let down. Ever what talk I always be here listern but can't promise anythings at movment but will listern.

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