We are bombarded with information relating to mental illness very regularly. Most people know the basic fact that one in four people suffer, at some point in their lives, with a mental illness. It hasn’t always been this way and things have definitely improved, but I can’t help wonder if this change is only in very specific ways.
Certain illnesses seem to be increasingly made aware of and myths and misconceptions challenged; depression is the main illness focussed on, but bipolar disorder, eating disorders, anxiety, OCD and schizophrenia all seem to be highlighted at least more than before.
Yet I can’t help but consider the illnesses most people still don’t understand to really any degree at all. Namely personality disorders and addictions. And I can’t help wonder if we all like to think things are improving more than they actually are, and that everyone likes to think they’ve changed when they haven’t.
Everyone knows someone who has had a mental health issue but I don’t know if people take this and assume they understand from it. And do we really realise the scope of the problem when we are throwing the one in four fact around? ONE in every FOUR people. That’s a terrifying and shocking fact when you put it into real terms, when you look around you and see yourself in a group of 20-something people and realise that at least five people in that group statistically speaking could have a mental health problem.
The biggest issue I find is that people understand mental health to a degree but we are brushing everything under this catch all umbrella when having a mental health problem can actually mean so many different things. We don’t know one person with a physical health problem and assume we understand about all physical health problems and yet we seem to do just this with mental illness.
And people with mental health problems still have to filter themselves, they still fear peoples responses applying for jobs and going to interviews. That hasn’t gone. It feels like everyone wants to understand, but from a distance. And the focus is very often on people once they are ‘recovered’ or managing.
It’s a complicated one. I’m not knocking the work that has been done or the changes that have happened because from where we were 50 years ago, it’s astounding. I just hope that people don’t start thinking enough has been done simply because we’re all talking about it now.