Mental Health Awareness Week 9-15 May 2022. This event was started by the Mental Health Foundation twenty-one years ago and it provides an opportunity for everyone to focus on achieving good mental health.
Mental Health Awareness Week is vitally important because mental health problems affect every aspect of our lives and wellbeing. When our mental health suffers, so too does our emotional, physical, social and cognitive wellbeing. By helping to bring the topic out into the open, Mental Health Awareness Week motivates people to start conversations about their mental health, thus normalising it. The event also encourages sufferers to seek help, something which can ultimately save lives.
Unfortunately, however, many people don’t get the treatment they need for their mental health issues. This results in them feeling lonely and isolated and risks their condition worsening. Some are not aware that treatment is available, while others are reluctant to seek it because of the associated stigma. Therefore, if we are to encourage people to seek help, we must debunk the stigma surrounding mental ill-health by making it a part of our everyday conversations.
Mental health stigma
Mental health stigma involves negative attitudes, prejudice and discrimination against people suffering from a mental health condition. Yet although one in four of us will experience a mental health problem at some point in our lives, it’s a sad fact that the stigma associated with mental illness is as prevalent now as it ever was.
There are two types of stigmas: social stigma and self-perceived stigma. The former refers to the prejudicial attitude of others, while the latter involves an internalised stigma experienced by someone suffering from mental ill-health. Research shows that such stigma is a leading risk factor in poor mental health outcomes. And because it makes people feel ashamed, stigma perpetuates those problems as sufferers are reluctant to seek help for something which they perceive to be their fault.
The impact of stigma
The impact of stigma can be devasting. The Mental Health Foundation reports that almost 90% of people living with a mental illness find that the associated stigma and discrimination have a negative impact on almost every aspect of their lives, with those subjected to stigma likely to experience the following problems:
Feelings of shame
Loss of confidence
Lack of criminal justice
Discrimination at work – may be overlooked for promotion
Harassment and bullying
Denied employment – only 24% of adults with long-term mental health problems are at work, and people with mental health are often deterred from applying for jobs as they fear discrimination.
Difficulty securing or keeping good quality housing
Internalising negative beliefs
Difficulties with family life
Fear of rejection
Social avoidance and isolation
Mental Health Awareness Week Theme
Our theme for this month is ‘Belonging’. We have chosen this theme as a logical continuation of last month’s stress awareness theme, ‘Community’ and because it links to the Mental Health Foundation’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week, ‘Loneliness’ a topic which we also covered back in November. All of these topics are intertwined and deal with how we create the meaningful social connections necessary for a good quality of life.
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Stress Awareness Theme ‘Community’ -impact on wellbeing -infographic
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