Let’s Talk About Mental Health

Lets Talk About Mental Health

 

Let’s talk.

Two small words, though often so hard to do.

But Prince Harry has been talking. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been talking. Lady Gaga, Rio Ferdinand, Freddie Flintoff and Professor Green have all been talking.

And they’ve all been talking about the same thing: Mental Health and how it has affected them.

The hope is that with such high-profile figures talking openly about it, a national conversation will be opened up. This is the idea at the forefront of Heads Together, the charity founded by the young royals, who have, themselves, been talking frankly about their own experiences.

Because let’s face it, if these people can open up about their own struggles with mental health issues, then maybe we can too. These people who we wrongly think have it all – fame, money, glamour. Surely people like that can’t be anything but happy?

But it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, or how rich and famous you are, one in four adults are likely to need professional help for mental health at some time in their lives. And three children in every classroom have a mental health issue.

And the main problem historically in this country, is the stigma that surrounds this subject.

Headcase is another charity, founded by Liz Fraser, whose aim is to rebrand this illness by providing a new, radically different and much-needed platform for mental health to be as cool, edgy, funny and sexy as anything else. To help millions of people who still don’t want to talk about it, because they have nowhere to go that speaks to them.

Liz and her team have been travelling around the country talking to hundreds of young people at colleges and universities, helping them better understand their mental health at a time when they most need it. Like Heads Together, they are making sure people know it’s OK to talk.

When I suffered from a bout of depression in my early 20’s, I was in denial. I had a charmed life, had attended a good school, had great friends, had had the time of my life at university and felt pretty much invincible.

And then it floored me like a fast left hook. Out of nowhere.

Crippling panic attacks, feelings of impending doom, nothing felt normal in my head anymore. I wouldn’t have wished it on my worst enemy, and the terrifying thing was, I had no idea what was happening to me.

I felt utterly alone because there was this overpowering sense that nobody else understood. Whatever was wrong with me had clearly never happened to anyone else, and nobody could help.

I did try to talk, but I felt like a freak as I tried to describe the fear that intruded every part of my body, the feeling that I could hardly breathe, the whole world becoming a distortion of overly bright lights and outer body experiences. And this could happen at any given time of day, for no reason whatsoever.

Let’s not forget that we were all carefree twentysomethings at the time. Nothing bad happened in our lovely bubble of youth. The main concern was which pub to go to, how much cheap booze we could drink, and who’s turn it was to shout the kebabs on the way home.

Our world was fun, and anybody who wasn’t able to embrace that, wasn’t really welcome. Or so I thought anyway.

Luckily, I had my mum. I knew I could talk to her about anything and I did. At 2am, 3am, 4am, when I couldn’t sleep for fear of never waking up, my heart about to explode out of my chest and my pyjamas drenched in sweat, I called her and she always listened.

Finally, she suggested I was suffering from depression.

DEPRESSION? Erm, I don’t think so.

That word was associated with weirdos, loonies, unhinged types, and certainly not people like me. Imagine the embarrassment of having to tell people that? But she got me to our local GP and he was wonderful. And I talked and talked and talked. And from that day on, a weight lifted from my exhausted shoulders and my recovery began.

But I still didn’t talk to anyone else. I couldn’t admit that mental health was my illness, for fear of what people would think of me. And this is exactly what charities such as Heads Together and Headcase are trying to do: lose the stigma that mental health has carried for such a long time. The shame, the weakness, the fragility that it has been associated with.

Nobody hesitates for one moment about telling people they suffer from hay fever. They would never fear that they might be then seen as a lesser person, or somebody who ‘can’t cope’, or that they will be judged as a fruit loop because they have asthma or arthritis.

We need to remove the stigma so that everyone knows it’s OK to talk. It’s not only OK, it’s good.

We can do this. Open up those conversations with your kids. Talk to them about mental health just as you do about other ailments. Most children are unaware that taboos exist, they see the world as it is.

The earlier we educate them that mental illness is just another illness, like all the others, the better. Some will suffer, some may not, but nobody should feel they can’t share it.

So let’s talk.

As featured in Huffington Post UK.

Find Heads Together on twitter at @heads_together and Headcase at @InMyHeadcase

 

BritMums

Lets Talk About Mental Health

As part of Headcase’s #whatsinyours campaign. That’s an earring by the way.

 

 

 

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71 Comments

  1. RaisieBay
    April 26, 2017 / 2:21 pm

    Great post, I love that there is so much going on at the moment to remove the stigma of mental health. I remember many moons ago being afraid to speak about how I felt and spiralled quickly. Even my family had no idea where I was heading. Even when I recovered I felt embarrassed about how I’d felt. It’s horrid to think that people still feel like this. It’s an illness, it doesn’t make you any less of a person than someone suffering from the flu.

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 2, 2017 / 11:08 am

      Hopefully the more we open up, the more people will realise they’re not alone, and they more they will feel able to talk. Wouldn’t it be great if we could talk about it like any other illness, as it really isn’t any different, just different symptoms. I’m sorry you had a tough time and like me, felt embarrassed by it. The hope is that the youth don’t ever feel like this if we can remove the stigma. Thx for your great comment. x

  2. Lucy Randle
    April 26, 2017 / 11:00 pm

    As always a great read, and you mke something people struggle to talk about, witty and entertaining. But you still keep it serious. Great blog post 😊

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 2, 2017 / 11:04 am

      Thanks for your lovely comment Lucy and for sharing this post. It’s people like you who spread the awareness. x

  3. It’s definitely good to talk about different mental health issues in a non fearful and non judgmental way – especially so considering they affect so many of us at one time or another. #TweensTeensBeyond

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 5, 2017 / 6:20 am

      It’s so common and the sooner people realise that one in four of us will be affected at some time in our lives, the better. Thanks for commenting x

  4. May 3, 2017 / 10:33 am

    This is the line that resonates with me the most. “The earlier we educate them that mental illness is just another illness, like all the others, the better. Some will suffer, some may not, but nobody should feel they can’t share it.” Amidst all the publicity from the royals speaking out my teens and I chatted at length about mental health. I hope that like you if they ever have a problem they know they can come to me to talk. Great post Susie. #TweensTeensBeyond

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 5, 2017 / 6:19 am

      I have been opening up this conversation with my children too as I just want them to know that mental health is something that is very common and nothing at all to be embarrassed or ashamed about. It is just like any other illness which can be treated with the right support. I was so lucky to always feel I could talk to my mum, and I just hope that my kids feel the same. Thanks for your fab comment Jo x

  5. May 3, 2017 / 12:54 pm

    Great post. Our teenage has been struggling with anxiety and depressive issues for the past few years. I’ll admit that seeing it firsthand has really opened my eyes to a lot of things that I didn’t really understand before. #teens,tweens,beyond

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 5, 2017 / 6:17 am

      I’m so sorry to hear your teenager has been strugglng. I really hope she is getting good professional support as I know from firsthand experience that that is not always so easy to find. Thanks for your comment xx

  6. May 3, 2017 / 9:05 pm

    Thank GOODNESS people are starting to be more open about this!! I have suffered on several occasions and had terrible experiences from the health services. First doing a post-grad degree, the university health services told me I was homesick and they couldn’t help me. This was after panic attacks and dropping a ton of weight due to depression.

    The second time, the locum doctor at my GP informed me that I would feel better and fit in better in my new community in SE England if I would just adopt a British accent (I am American btw & he was Indian!). WTF!!!??? I wonder if he had a particular one in mind? Newcastle? Maybe West Country?

    If I hadn’t been so low, I think i would have pursued a grievance against him. However, I had a bright spot today when speaking to a friend’s mum who is in her 60s. And she casually mentioned that she had gone to therapy when she was younger. Just like that. No embarrassment. No excuses. Cool!
    Great post! Thank you! We have a long way to go but there are chinks in the armour!
    #TweensTeensBeyond

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 5, 2017 / 6:16 am

      It’s great that people are now feeling able to drop into conversation that they’ve struggled or been through therapy etc. But I am horrified by how little support you got when you suffered from depression. The homesick line beggars belief but the accent one is just out of this world ridiculous and completely negligent! You poor thing, you must have felt so alone especially being away from home. I hope you got some support from caring professionals in the end. Hopefully that kind of thing is a thing of the past but I agree, there is still a long way to go but we can do it. Thanks for your comment xxx

  7. thesingleswan
    May 3, 2017 / 9:15 pm

    Great post! What do the stats say? – that one in four of us are suffering from some kind of mental health challenge at any given time. This means that we must all go through at least one challenging patch at some point in our lives. Your mum sounds great. Thank you for sharing your story. Pen x #brillblogposts

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 5, 2017 / 6:13 am

      It’s one in four Pen so it’s so common and so many people suffer in silence. Even their nearest and dearest have no idea. Hopefully though people will realise they don’t need to bottle it all up anymore and nobody will judge them. It’s just another illness. Thx for your comment x

  8. May 3, 2017 / 10:10 pm

    A moving, powerful post, thank you for sharing your experience, I’m so sorry you suffered from depression. I had a horrendous time after Oliver was born and spent 10 months suffering from a traumatic birth pretty much in silence because I didn’t know how to articulate what I was feeling and if I tried I felt worse, that I was failing, that admitting I felt so bad was worse than feeling awful. I wish these campaigns had been around then, that blogging was common place (it took me 5 years to write about it in the end) but thankfully I saw my GP and a great therapist and things slowly pieced back together. Thank you for this. Lets remove the stigma together xx

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 5, 2017 / 6:11 am

      It must have been torture for you Vicki living in silence for 10 months with a newborn to look after, but thankfully you went to your GP and got support. I just hope that we can raise awareness and our children realise that it’s completely OK to suffer from mental illness, just like any other illness, so they know that they can talk about it. Thanks for reading and commenting and let’s remove the stigma together, here here! xxxx

  9. May 4, 2017 / 10:30 am

    This is great, the more we talk and write about mental health the better! #ablogginggoodtime

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 5, 2017 / 6:09 am

      Absolutely, let’s remove the stigma. Thx for commenting x

  10. Such an important issue and thank you for sharing your personal story. I feel that things are starting to shift and that young people, in particular, are more likely to open up about how they are feeling. Wonderful story about your Mum and I hope that my 3 girls feel that they can do that with me. Thanks so much for sharing with us at #TweensTeensBeyond

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 5, 2017 / 6:08 am

      Thank you for this lovely comment. Hopefully in time our kids will be very aware of mental illness, just like any other illness, and not treat it with the stigma that has been attached to it historically. I’ve been so lucky with the open relationship I have with my mum – I really hope I have it with my 3 too. xx

  11. May 4, 2017 / 3:33 pm

    This is such an important conversation to have. I’m really pleased that some high profile people are helping to give mental health the attention that it deserves and needs. Thanks for linking to #GlobalBlogging

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 5, 2017 / 6:05 am

      Absolutely – by leading by example, hopefully people will realise that if people like Prince Harry can talk about it, then they can too. Thanks for reading and commenting x

  12. May 4, 2017 / 5:01 pm

    Had depression hit me in my 20s, I wouldn’t have known how to deal with it. If it hit me now, I’d have troubles understanding why and how. It’s something we all need to talk about. So that we can be more equipped at spotting the signs and asking for help. Without feeling like loonies. Such an important post! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope to see you again next time!

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 5, 2017 / 6:04 am

      It was hard to deal with in my 20’s, but must be even harder as a teen or child when it is so hard to understand different emotions and feelings, never mind mental illness. I just hope we open the national conversation up enough that people know there is nothing wrong with it at all, and it is good to talk. Thx for commenting x

  13. May 4, 2017 / 8:20 pm

    I’m so glad that we are all starting to talk about this a bit more! This is a brilliant post, love it! #ablogginggoodtime

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 5, 2017 / 6:03 am

      Thanks for reading Aleena. It’s so important that we open about this illness so our children know it’s good to talk. x

  14. May 4, 2017 / 8:56 pm

    Great post! 🌟 its amazing To see so many people opening up and talking honestly about mental illness I hope it will make it easier for our kids. It is scary how many young people are suffering from this now. Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime 🎉

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 5, 2017 / 6:02 am

      I know, so many children are suffering, perhaps because of the pressures on them in this day and age but it’s so important that they grow up knowing it is nothing to be ashamed about, and that they can always talk about it. Thanks for commenting x

  15. May 5, 2017 / 11:02 am

    I had depression in my 20’s too, very similar situation. i used alcohol to blot it out and it really didn’t end well. Looking back I can see I was out of control. Then it hit again in my 30’s. I had a great job, was doing well in my career yet at home I couldn’t function. I didn’t leave the house, I didn’t clean up and done just the bare minimum to get by. One day in work I snapped and quit and it was the best thing I ever done. I never spoke to anyone about how I was feeling, or told them that behind my smile I was having a massive panic attack. I’m still not sure to this day it would have helped, but I know I felt like people wouldn’t understand and that’s not OK. That’s why I love this campaign, because people don’t need to feel like I did and you are so right that if we can educate them young enough the better it will be. Thank you for sharing your story #kcacols

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 12, 2017 / 3:51 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience too Tracey. Alcohol masked a lot for me too and I remember very well plastering on that smile to mask the desperateness I was feeling inside. I so hope that our children will feel no taboo about it at all and won’t think twice about seeking help if they suffer from mental illness, just as they would for any other illness. Thx for commenting xxx

  16. May 5, 2017 / 1:01 pm

    It is rare to find a home that hasn’t been touched by mental illness now isn’t it Susie. Yet still such a long way to go to remove the historic stigmas that prevail. I do see things improving as more and more people open up and share their stories and raise the profile of this illness. Thank you for sharing something that is very dear to your heart at #tweensteensbeyond, Nicky

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 12, 2017 / 3:35 pm

      What a lovely comment Nicky, thank you. So many people have contacted me since I wrote this – either friends of mine who have struggled in silence, or those I don’t know who are relieved that we are all trying to remove the stigma so that people know they are not alone. As you so rightly say, there is hardly a home that has not been touched by mental illness. xx

  17. May 6, 2017 / 11:04 am

    Such a wonderful post, you are so right. It is very important to talk. We shouldn’t live in a world where mental health is a stigma. So glad people are standing up and making talking the norm. Thank you for writing this and sharing it with us at #PostsFromTheHeart

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 12, 2017 / 3:36 pm

      Hopefully that stigma is gradually being lifted and people are realising that so many suffer from this illness, and it’s totally OK and good to talk about it. I just hope our children will feel it is no different from other illnesses and it’s totally OK to reach out and get help. Thx for commenting xx

  18. May 7, 2017 / 1:18 pm

    Goodness this has made me tearful – probably for reasons that I don’t want to hugely explore but probably should. All of what you say – it resonates. You were so lucky to have had such a wonderful supportive mum – that is the kind of mum I want to be for my children for sure because it breaks my absolute heart to think that may never have me that they can talk to if they ever feel the same. Thank you for sharing this post. #ablogginggoodtime

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 12, 2017 / 3:42 pm

      Thx for your lovely comment. I’m so hoping my children feel they can talk to me as I have always felt I could talk to my mum. It’s so important that our kids know it’s an illness just like any other and they can always open up and reach out, if not to their parents, then to someone else they can trust. xx

  19. May 7, 2017 / 9:20 pm

    Awesome post! It nearly did me in during my second pregnancy. mental illness is no joke. Thanks for linking this up to #globalblogging.com

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 12, 2017 / 3:39 pm

      Thanks for your comment. Must’ve been so hard coping with it during pregnancy while looking after another little one. Hope you felt you could talk about it and thx for sharing here. xx

  20. May 7, 2017 / 10:29 pm

    Thank you for being so honest and writing this. Mental health can mean so many things but they more we write/read about it the less taboo it will become #Postsfromtheheart

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 12, 2017 / 3:38 pm

      You’re so right, the more we talk about it, hopefully it’ll soon become accepted that it’s just like any other illness and it’s good to get support and open up. Thx for commenting x

  21. May 8, 2017 / 10:16 pm

    Yes to all of this – it’s so important that people keep talking. My husband was diagnosed with depression two years ago and he didn’t speak for such a long time. I encourage him all the time, even though a lot of the time he doesn’t want to. Such an important subject. #MarvMondays

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 12, 2017 / 3:32 pm

      I imagine it’s even harder for men to reach out and open up, as historically it’s not what they’re ‘meant to do’. I really hope he is getting good support, and I’m sure he gets huge support from you, though it’s also really hard watching a loved one going through it. Thx for your meaningful comment xx

  22. May 8, 2017 / 10:35 pm

    I think that it’s so important to try and raise awareness for such an issue. You have done so great in sharing your story with the beautiful written post.

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 12, 2017 / 3:48 pm

      Thank you Kelly-Anne for your lovely thoughtful comment. I hope this post can help people realise that they’re not alone and it’s OK to talk. Thx for commenting xx

  23. May 10, 2017 / 12:17 am

    such a great post, such an important issue! #KCACOLS

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 12, 2017 / 3:48 pm

      Thanks and thank you for reading and commenting. Such an important issue which is getting the attention is so deserves. x

  24. Rebecca
    May 10, 2017 / 9:50 pm

    This is such a brave, honest and hugely important piece Suze. There can’t be many families that have not been affected by mental illness of some description. How many of those families have been too ashamed or frightened to seek help I wonder? Honesty such as this is vital if awareness is to be raised and help made more accessible.

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 12, 2017 / 3:47 pm

      Thx for your gorgeous comment Rebecca. You’re so right, it is so common and hopefully with more awareness people will no longer feel ashamed or afraid to seek support and open up. I just hope for our kids’ sake, the stigma will be removed and it will be viewed just like any other illness. xxxxxxxx

  25. May 11, 2017 / 5:18 pm

    I find it easy to talk about mental health. I always wish I could find a way to help people manage to open up as easily as can sometimes. #kcacols

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 12, 2017 / 3:45 pm

      That’s so great that you can talk about it openly. I can now, but it has taken a while and I certainly couldn’t when it hit me in my 20’s when I really cared what people thought. Thx for commenting x

  26. aimz18
    May 11, 2017 / 6:01 pm

    Such an important topic! I suffer from anxiety and I had PND, it’s so important to have someone to talk to xx
    Epsand Amy xx

    • aimz18
      May 11, 2017 / 6:02 pm

      Oops #kcacols

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 12, 2017 / 3:30 pm

      I’m so glad it’s reaching out to people like yourself who know firsthand how isolating it can be. Thank you for commenting x

  27. May 12, 2017 / 10:24 am

    Great post and you are right we need to end the taboo and open up more about MH #KCACOLS

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 12, 2017 / 3:44 pm

      Thx for reading and commenting. You are so right, hopefully with all this awareness then the stigma will be removed and it will be viewed as an illness just like any other. x

  28. May 12, 2017 / 10:24 am

    I couldn’t agree more with every single word you’ve written. I wrote a post a few days ago touching on this, but more so on people’s attitudes towards me when I was suffering from depression. I found most people just dropped me because they don’t get it. We really do have to work together as a people to get rid of the awful stigma that is keeping people trapped. Thanks so much for sharing #StayClassyMama x

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 12, 2017 / 3:27 pm

      I’m so sorry you felt isolated and alone during that tough time you must have had. It’s hard enough dealing with what’s going on yourself, but doubly tough when you feel that nobody else gets it and wants to even try to get it. I felt very alone too and unable to reach out to people. Thanks for your comment and sharing your own experience. x

  29. May 12, 2017 / 11:33 am

    Brilliant post. It’s great that people are finally feeling free enough to open up and seek help and these amazing charities are helping them to do so #KCACOLS

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 12, 2017 / 3:29 pm

      Let’s hope that the support and help is there for all these people who are hopefully feeling more able to open up and get help. It’s amazing how many people have contacted me since this post and opened up about their own experiences. Thank you for your lovely comment x

  30. May 14, 2017 / 8:21 pm

    Wonderful post lovely, I’m so pleased to be seeing more and more people talking about and discussing mental health. I think, like you, we need to keep raising awareness of mental health and to continue letting people know that not only is it OK to talk about it, but also good too. Thank you for sharing with #bigpinklink x

  31. May 17, 2017 / 3:30 pm

    So sorry to hear you suffered from depression. I definitely agree with you that it is very important to keep the conversation open about mental health so that people that suffer from it don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed about asking for help. Thank you for sharing with #StayClassymama

  32. May 28, 2017 / 8:40 am

    Brilliant post. You pretty much just described what happened to me at the same age. I was scared to admit it – to myself or others, but once I did start to talk about it, I never stopped. I realised that there’s no shame and not talking about it makes it much, much worse. #postsfromtheheart

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 29, 2017 / 3:49 pm

      I’m so glad you read it as you’ve obviously been through a very similar experience. Just like you, I couldn’t talk about it then as I didn’t want to admit I was suffering from mental illness but now I’m so happy to talk about it, and then I realised how many others have suffered too. Thx for reading and commenting x

  33. lisalambert38 - Mumdadplus4.co.uk
    June 6, 2017 / 12:08 pm

    Great post and glad people can talk about more openly than they could years ago. I am a sufferer and found it extremely hard to talk years go but now its much more acceptable to talk about it. #DreamTeam

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      June 12, 2017 / 9:57 am

      Hopefully these campaigns are making sufferers realise that they can open up and talk and it’s a common illness. Thx for reading x

  34. June 6, 2017 / 9:53 pm

    Great post! I’ve struggled with anxiety since my early teens and have always found it so difficult to talk about, I’ve only just started to open up about it and have been really inspired by the heads together campaign and other wonderful charities that are helping to break the stigma! Thank you for sharing ❤

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      June 12, 2017 / 9:37 am

      Brilliant news that these charities have helped you and hopefully lots more people are feeling the same and finding it easier to open up. Thx for reading and sharing your experience. xx

  35. June 11, 2017 / 9:37 pm

    Brilliant post and I couldn’t agree more – when I was younger, mental health was so rarely talked about even though some of the people around me might have been suffering. Talking about it is the only way forward to help one another. Thanks for linking up to #dreamteam x

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      June 12, 2017 / 8:44 am

      Hopefully we’re all realising that there is nothing to be ashamed about and the more we openly talk about it, the more those who are suffering will realise it’s an illness like any other. Thx for commenting and hosting xx

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