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I remember being at college and thinking, "If I had a broken arm, people wouldn't question why I sit out of lessons some days." I almost wished that I had some sort of visible illness/injury instead, just so people wouldn't judge or even query why I was doing the things that I was. I wasn't ashamed or embarrassed about having a mental illness, but I felt that people wouldn't understand if I said it was the reason why I behaved in certain ways. It's sad to think that we live in a generation where it's easier to make up a physical excuse than to say that we are having a bad day with our mental health.
I'm sure many people who have experienced mental illness have used the phrase, "I'm just tired," to brush off how they are really feeling. We do this because we know that more people will understand tiredness than if we said, "I'm feeling anxious today." We know that everyone feels tired now and again so they will be able to understand and relate, but we don't know if they have experienced a bad day with mental health. However, statistics from the NHS (referenced at the end) suggest otherwise, they claim that one in four adults experience mental illness; so it is probably just as likely that someone who has experienced being tired has also experienced a bad day with their mental health so it could be good to talk about it.
It's surprising to know the statistics are so high yet mental health is still often considered a taboo topic... but why? Is it because of the lack of education on the matter, or perhaps the ignorance of some individuals? If mental health was taught in schools, and workshops were delivered in workplaces and colleges, etc. then maybe people would have a better understanding of the different types and how it can affect themselves and the people around them. It is such an important matter and I believe that it is just as important as physical health and should be treated that way!
Phrases used by someone with a mental illness probably wouldn't be said by someone with a physical/medical issue, such as: "I don't need to go to the doctors, it will go away," "I don't need medication it will sort itself out," or "I can't take a day off work for this." Now, would these same phrases be used by someone with diabetes, a broken bone, or a sickness bug? No, they probably wouldn't because we know that it is important to get help; this is how we should feel about our mental health.
Likewise, if we had a headache, we would take a painkiller; if it continued for days, weeks, or months, affecting our daily lives and not getting any better, we would probably go to the doctors. Yet, many people suffering from a mental health issue affecting their daily lives do not seek help or want to take medication for it.
It's time to raise awareness and take care of our mental health just as much as our physical health. If you needed a sign to seek help, I hope this could be it. Even if the first person you talk to doesn't help you the way you hoped, don't give up! There are plenty of people who will understand and can support you. Here is a link to is a list of websites recommended by the NHS that can help you or advise you on how to help someone suffering. These sites can be used for information, phone calls, text messages, or online chats for help and guidance.