ĎLetís share what we see and how we think and progress togetherí
Posted by mentalhealthland
6th Mar 2016

Letís face it: in most places, itís still not OK to talk openly about your depression or anxiety, and I dread to imagine the reaction someone with Schizophrenia would face after their workmates found out. Iím generalising here, Iím aware there will be some exceptions. However, I hope we can agree that this is probably true for most places, whether at work or school, in social situations or with the public. This needs to change. Within the general mental health conversation, the phrase Ďpeople with mental health issuesí is a current favourite and possibly the least offensive reference so far. Itís important to remember, though, that the most important word of those five is Ďpeopleí. Maybe one day thatís the only word weíll need to use.

Itís quite widely accepted that human beings have inhabited the Earth for around 100,000 years. In that time, there has been every type of person you could imagine and countless social constructs with their own norms and obscurities, likes and dislikes, rituals, beliefs and practices. It just so happens that in our current construct, at this time, people who have experiences and beliefs that fall into a classification system that we invented have become outcast and ridiculed. In some cultures people who hear voices are considered gifted and blessed with an ability to channel other-worldly spirits. In others, people are encouraged to openly express their emotions and share their feelings with other members of their society in order to work through them and connect with other people on a deeper level, rather than being labelled as weak or attention-seeking. You see, the only thing that is constant between cultures is these experiences, not the way they are viewed by the society. So whatís really more acceptable? For me, arbitrary societal perspectives donít come out very well.

Whatís more, human beings seem to value entertainment value over most other things. Whether itís a hilarious car crash on Youíve Been Framed or a story about a Ďdangerousí Ďlunaticí (often seen in the Daily Mail, watch out for it), people can very easily block their empathy glands as long as they are having a laugh. With something like mental health, their ideas and impressions can also be quite heavily influenced by a narrative that still favours a 1950s horror movie portrayal of someone with a mental illness. Unfortunately, though, this dramatised picture is more entertaining over breakfast than an accurate account. Just to be clear, I donít think the public is to blame for this. News corporations are largely to blame as long as they continue a blatantly skewed reporting of mental illness and I would like to see much more effort and finances be put into mental health awareness. The main message of any public broadcasting platform should be this: though we may all see the world in our own way, we are very much the same. Letís share what we see and how we think and progress together. I know as well as you how unlikely this is, so instead I suggest that we work on changing our own prejudices about people who have different psychological experiences than us. If every person were to do this, the job would be done. For now, letís focus on ourselves, on our own views. Thatís usually the best place to start.

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