This week we were all obviously devastated by the news that the legendary actor Robin Williams had died by committing suicide.
This week we were all obviously devastated by the news that the legendary actor Robin Williams had died by committing suicide. This saddened me and automatically made me feel the need to discuss mental health on a larger scale.
So why are suicide and wider mental health issues still being SO ignored?
Most of us by now know that one in four people will suffer from mental health problems each year. That's pretty high, so why isn't more being done?
I find myself bemused and disgusted by the comments made on a daily basis about the subject. "You still have a roof over your head and food on the table." So because I have food my social anxiety should now disappear? Because I have money my feelings of low self-esteem should improve? Because I have a home my… You get the picture.
Not much knowledge
I remember when I was at college suicide was being discussed in my lesson and a girl said 'Why don't people who want to kill themselves just jump in front of a train?'
If such insensitive comments were made about physical health issues, such as cancer, there would be uproar. As I sat at that table most people didn't seem too bothered by her comments. I on the other hand was livid; my rage and upset built within a millisecond.
Now that I look back on it though people aren't been taught about mental health, what it is, the different kinds and how to talk to those who suffer from it, so could I really blame her?
Most people who think of mental health related issues will think of depression, but there is so much more to it than that. SAD, OCD, anxiety, eating disorders, schizophrenia… How much do you know about them? Probably not a lot, unless you have suffered from them yourself.
Granted, I haven't been in education for a few years, but when I was at school (not a line I thought I'd be saying at twenty two) mental health was almost non-existent. Once a year we had anti bullying week, which although is a great idea to raise awareness, really wasn't that effective. I was bullied consistently for six years. One anti bullying assembly and a week of recognition once a year wasn't enough.
The same thing happened when it came to lessons. In P.S.H.E my memories consist of politics and religion, maybe bullying on a few occasions. In Science we learnt about plants and the solar system and anything health related was all physical. Mental health issues are all about chemistry and psychology, so why weren't these of the curriculum?
An educational stigma
I still find myself baffled and heartbroken by the fact it is so neglected in society. Physical illness seems to grab the attention (and funding), yet with the events of this week isn't it apparent that mental health issues are just as prominent and important, if not more so?
It almost feels like the term mental health is scary and children should not be exposed to it. I disagree. If we educate kids from the start, the prejudice will decrease, the bullying will be reduced and the likelihood of kids getting help sooner rather than later will begin. The sooner they seek that help the sooner the problem is fixed and that can ONLY be a good thing.
Of course the news of Robin Williams is horrible, but with fame comes awareness. I hope that due to his celebrity status it will get people discussing mental health and the importance of it.
The truth of the matter is this if it is ignored it can be life threatening. We must act now or who will it be next? Another beloved celebrity, someone from school, your child.
I leave you with this final quote from Nelson Mandela: Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
P.S. Oh and Mr Cameron, rather than building HS2, maybe stop the cuts to mental health and give that money to that instead.
What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below.