Column: Grasping mental health and its stigma

By Adam Humphreys

On the outside I’m fine and appear to be doing okay even. Guess again, inside I’m actually SCREAMING in the midst of a whirlpool of problems you can’t begin to understand.
Picture the scene, you’re sitting there, just watching the world go by, everyone looks at you without a care in the world. Everyone asks you how you are and you tell them through a seemingly cheery disposition that you’re fine and you reassure them with a nice big smile. However, on the inside it’s a completely different story. In your mind you are practically overwhelmed with all sorts of problems, and they are whizzing round and round in your head like a destructive tornado, seemingly never-ending.
Mental Health problems such as stress, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are just a number of problems that affect everyday individuals. 1 in 4 people will experience some form of mental health problem in the UK every year. Roughly 1 in 6 people have reported suffering from such related problems such as anxiety and depression at any given moment.
Sadly, many of us quite often turn a blind eye to these sorts of problems when really, we should be doing a lot more to help. Mental health is one of the biggest killers of young people, especially for males. Back in 2017, 5,821 suicides were recorded in Britain alone and of that number 25% were female, 75% were male. Unfortunately, a great many of us seem to have this sort of arrogance about us when we tell the person to just ‘Man up’ and not take it seriously.
This is a result of an old-age stereotype where men were expected to be the strong ones, to bottle it up and to suffer in silence. The women were meant to be ‘the weaker ones’ who simply let it all pour out.
In EastEnders, around 2016/17, there was a storyline around the issue of mental health. The story centred around a member of the Carter clan, Lee Carter (Danny-Boy Hatchard) who began to suffer from clinical depression. In a gripping episode, Lee, unable to cope with his demons, attempts to commit suicide by jumping off a tall building.
In a recent issue of Attitude magazine, they covered a feature on a project created by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in which they had joined with Prince Harry’s Heads Together. One of the aims of the project is to tackle the stigma around mental health issues and alter mental health discussions. The project is called Shout and is a text service where people can speak in confidentiality to trained volunteers about their problems. Shout has already responded to 60,000 conversations. The service is supported by specially trained professionals who speak directly with people suffering with various problems via text and help them into a better state of mind.