Mental health can be a difficult topic to talk about sometimes. Especially when I have never really been affected by a diagnosed mental illness myself and have no idea whether what I am about to say will be taken the wrong way by people with more knowledge and experience than me. I hope it doesn’t but if you disagree with anything I am about to say, please just accept that this is my personal opinion and I am not trying to force my views on to anyone, I just want to explain my point of view and give you something to think about.
Some may say I have no right to talk about this, considering my knowledge of what it feels like to have a mental health illness may be considered as ‘too’ limited by some people, but I think I do.
Everyone, whether they realise it or not, has the possibility of being affected by mental health illnesses and has or will probably at some point in their lives wonder if what they are experiencing would be classed as a mental health disorder. I know I have. I still do for that matter. It is estimated that 10% of 5-16 year olds suffer with a clinically diagnosable mental health disorder.
Let’s talk about the words: clinically diagnosable. This implies that a mental health disorder has been verified and determined according to a set criteria of symptoms – for want of a better word – that a person with a particular mental illness is said to commonly experience.
If just 10% of 5-16 year olds fit this criteria and have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, then what about all those that haven’t?
What about all those that suffer in silence for fear of being told by a doctor or psychiatrist that what they are experiencing doesn’t perfectly fit these set ‘criteria’ of symptoms and being turned away as they are merely making ‘mountains out of molehills’?
What about all those who are told by people around them ‘you don’t have depression, you don’t cry all the time’ or ‘you don’t have anxiety, you’ve never had a panic attack’?
Do, for example, the UKs mental health provisions cater for them?
Do they offer them support and counselling as they may do to those who have mental health illness that comply to this criteria and has been formally diagnosed?
I don’t think so.
But this is not really the point I wanted to make. What I really wanted to explain was my view that mental health illnesses can’t and shouldn’t be defined.
Mental health illnesses are different for every single person. No one can really know and understand what is going on in another persons head, not even the very best, most renowned physcologists. Mental health illnesses are personal to you. Only you yourself can define whether your mental health is good or bad.
Therefore, is it right for people to have to go to a doctor ask for confirmation – based on the judgement of one or a couple of people – that what they are going through is due to poor mental health?
Is it right that we should tell others that they are not suffering from a mental health disorder and ‘faking’ just because they have not been formally diagnosed by a doctor who doesn’t have a complete understanding of what thoughts run through you mind constantly and keep you awake at night?
Is it right for people to tell others to ‘stop self-diagnosing mental health disorders on the internet and thinking you are going to die because mental health is a serious issue’ (a tweet of one of my classmates after our mental health awareness day at school)?
Is it right for people who have been clinically diagnosed with mental health disorders to tell others to stop ‘faking’ mental illnesses and thinking it’s ‘cool’ to have a mental health disorder because they know what it’s like for every single person with that disorder and can ‘magically’ know whether someone has it or not? Is it right for anyone to tell anyone what to do or think?
Is it right for anyone to make a judgement about whether someone has a mental health disorder or not, regardless of whether they have been diagnosed?
I don’t think so.
So can we just all stop for one second and be human? Can we just stop claiming that we know every little thing about another person and every little thing that goes through their brain? Because that’s what we’re doing, thinking we have the right to judge others. When really we don’t.
The truth is, everyone judges each other. All the time. It’s part of human nature. But I believe we have become ignorant to this and started a sort of ‘war’ over judgements – for example some people with diagnosed mental health disorders may feel like others are pretending to have mental health disorders to gain attention whilst other people may feel as if some people with diagnosed mental health disorders were just attention seeking on the first place. This is all so stupid.
We should be uniting to support anyone and everyone who suffers from a mental health disorder, whether they have been told so by a qualified doctor or made that decision after conducting their own research, not arguing and disagreeing and judging all the time.
We all go around saying whatever comes into our minds to whoever without thinking of the consequences or how that person may personally be affected by our one-sided, inaccurate judgements.
Unfortunately, mental health has become a victim of this. Of us. Mental health disorders can’t be defined and can’t be determined by a set list of symptoms. Not really anyway.
So for one second can we just stop believing that they can be? It would solve a whole lot of time and effort to just accept that we are all different and mental health is different for all of us instead of naming people as ‘fake’ or ‘attention seeking’. In the end, whether someone does or does not suffer from a mental health disorder, it is not right to tell anyone that their own judgement of their own mental health is wrong. We should accept and trust what each other says until we have evidence or proof that a person has misused this trust and can let ourselves believe otherwise.
So, can we just move on from this and start being a little bit more human now, please?
Can we just start trusting what each other says again?
Can we just stop picking holes in everything?
The world would be a happier place if we could.