Dignity in mental health
1992 saw the first ever World Mental Health Day, organised by the World Federation for Mental Health (http://www.wfmh.org/) as a celebration of mental health education, awareness and promotion. October 10th will be the day that the event will take place in 2015 and in keeping with previous years, there will be a special theme for this year. That theme is dignity in mental health and the intention is to promote ways for people to maintain their wellbeing and to seek help when it is necessary.
The stigma of mental illness
It may seem simple to suggest that people look to maintain their wellbeing and to seek help where necessary to remain mentally healthy, but the stigma of mental health can often be a barrier to people reaching out to others to gain support or advice. People may be worried that it may be seen as a sign of weakness or failure to admit that they may be mentally unwell or be fearful that they are going to be mocked or ostracised. Just at the time when people may need support the most, it can be the moment that they feel the least like asking for it or of receiving it.
Being fearful of the stigma of mental illness can have some knock on consequences for people. It can be mean that they become more insular and retreat from social interaction, which in turn can lead them to ruminating on their problems or focusing negatively on their situation. The danger in this situation can be that there is a negative, downward spiral of their mental health, which can be hard to break the cycle of.
What can be done?
How we can ensure more dignity for people who are lacking in mental health? Positive psychology has found that there are a number of ways that people can increase their wellbeing and that of others, namely, connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give. More information can be found at the New Economics Foundation website.
I believe that a way to overcome the stigma of mental illness can be through raising awareness and greater education of its effects, so that others can understand what person with mental illness may be going through and be more supportive than scared of them. This can then have the positive impact of making a person with poor mental health to feel that there is support available and that there isn’t a stigma about their poor mental health. Linking in with Barbara Fredrickson’s Broaden and Build Theory and an upward spiral of positive emotions, perhaps overcoming the stigma of poor mental can create upward spiral of mental health?
What are you going to be doing on Saturday 10th October to help increase dignity in mental health?