It’s mental health day (again). It seems to be every week now, which is a good way to remind people that the rest of the year it’s still a problem. I was just on BBC’s Sunday Morning Live where they were discussing stigma about mental illness. One man on the panel said we should stop talking about it because it’s becoming a ‘buzz’ word. (I swear to God someone said that). I cut that off pretty quickish.
We’d still be ostracising gay people if someone didn’t have the bravery to stand up first and come out publicly. Well, they didn’t shut up, they talked and talked and marched and marched until everyone said, “Ok, you can join the human race.” When AIDS broke out, they made so much noise that billions were put into finding a cure. If they hadn’t shouted so loudly there might not be anti-viral medicines today.
If people didn’t come out and talk about their cancer (years ago it wasn’t spoken of. People would mouth that someone had the ‘C’ word) it might still have a stigma and there would have been ziltch advances in cancer research.
Politicians listen to noise because it means more voters when they give in.
Mental illness isn’t spoken about enough so politicians ignore it. Once in while money is promised and then nothing is done. Some other disaster appears on TV and our mental health crisis is forgotten. The piggy bank is empty when it comes to research into mental illness. It affects more people than all diseases put together but gets a very miniscule percentage of allocated money.
Do I have to say it again? Most diseases are caused by the brain. Most information is passed from the mothership to the body, the body doesn’t function on its own devices. The brain sends messengers about glucose intake, for example, and that’s how you get diabetes, not because your liver made a conscious decision.
On that news show, someone also said that some people might be faking a mental illness. In these situations I always like to respond with “If you had someone with Alzheimer’s would you tell them to ‘buck up’ and stop repeating things?”
If we don’t talk about mental illness in schools, when it’s ignored, guess what happens to the kids who have no one to talk to when they get older? Dare I mention crime, drugs, self harm, suicide? It should be public policy that teachers are trained to spot kids who may have the seeds of a mental illness, and trained to get them professional help – quickly. It can be recognised. You just need to know what the signs are. The eyes of someone who has depression and is having a hard time compared to the look of someone in deep puberty are continents apart.
And before you say it’s their genes, science will point you to the direction that genes can be altered. If a kid had abusive parents, a sympathetic, caring teacher can create trust and make them feel safe. Once a kid feels safe and listened to, their little brains blossom so they can respond to and comprehend compassion. Those genes that potentially might have made them violent or socially withdrawn just don’t get switched on.
This all takes money – to train teachers and to train GPs in psychiatry (if frontline medical professionals like GPs don’t have the training what gives them the expertise to pass out meds for mental problems? It’s like going to a dentist for heart surgery).
So, if you have a problem, shout it out, and shout about it loud. I may start selling t-shirts that say ‘proud to be crazy’. If we all make enough noise, maybe the politicians and money men might start to pay attention.
Come and make some noise together. Ruby is on tour in the UK and Ireland this autumn 2017 with her #Frazzled Show. Tickets are still available – book quick.
If you want to be the first to know more about Ruby’s research into mental health when her new book, How To Be Human, is published, as well as exclusive news, special offers and other things that might be useful to you, just tell Ruby where to get in touch.
Want to learn more about mindfulness, and how it can help your mental health? You can buy Ruby’s no. 1 best selling book A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled online and from all good bookshops.
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