Let's begin by setting the scene:
One in every four people report having experienced mental health issues in their lifetime.
Annual suicide rates increased by 24% between 1999 and 2014.
The WHO estimate that eight hundred thousand people each year commit suicide.
Suicide rates continue to soar and, as we emerge from the Covid pandemic that is sweeping across the world, many are predicting a mental health crisis that could last years into the future.
If now is not a good time to be talking about our mental well being and state of mind then I'm not sure when is. Hi, I’m Kimi Stone, and I’m here to discuss mental health.
It is a well noted phenomenon that people often refuse to talk about their mental health. This is frequently due to the stigma attached to it and the unfair stereotype people who take time to deal with their mental health problems and are not afraid to admit to them are weak, portrayed as somehow strange or in some way abnormal. It’s as if the pressures of the workplace, school, home and our personal lives aren’t significant enough to ever cause us some concern or issues, but I suppose it’s easier to stigmatize the sufferer than admit that we are maybe feeling the same way.
What I have never understood is that no one ever gossips about the physical illness of an individual in a way that is particularly scandalous or shameful; however, people often talk about mental illness in a way that suggests this is exactly the case. When it comes to physical illness, we understand it’s a broad spectrum. He wears glasses, she has a bad knee, and yet they are never grouped together as people who are physically ill a such. They don't become the 'Physically Ill'.
Also, we often talk about how we must stay healthy, exercise and eat the correct foods without fear of offending someone or of judgement in some way, we talk about how we “need to go for a run tonight because we ate all that food” and yet we always steer clear from discussing how to have better mental health with a victim of it - because we think it will make the victim feel at fault for his/her struggles. Many say “I’m afraid to mention Mental Health in case someone gets offended” as if having mental health issues is a weakness. Mental health is something that is unavoidable, and it’s impossible to be completely mentally healthy. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, only 17% of adults are at ‘Optimal Mental Health’.
So the question remains - why aren't we talking about it more? The stats seem to suggest that our mental health is in decline and that it impacts a huge number of us across the globe, but still the vast majority of us remain silent. If we are to start addressing this problem then we need to learn to be more open about our feelings and thoughts and to start a dialogue about how we can find ways to improve our mental health and, in doing so, make the world a more tolerant and hopefully happier place to be.