Breaking the Stigma – Mental Health

The topic of health is everywhere. From nutrition to exercise, and from flu shots to physiotherapists, it’s a common topic of conversation. We understand the pain and inconveniences of a major injury and instinctively hold doors open for those using crutches. We commiserate readily when a bout of gastroenteritis keeps a whole family at home in beds for a long, exhausting week. Many of us discuss our ailments readily, exchanging tips on managing and treating them. Many of us have had to sternly encourage a friend or family member to see a doctor, despite their stubborn insistence (with a cough and rasping voice)  that it’s ‘really nothing’, and they’re fine.

Many of us also find it really hard to talk about mental health.

There are plenty of reasons why it’s hard to discuss mental health. We aren’t sure how others will react. We might have concerns for a friend and avoid the topic because it could be embarrassing if they are actually fine. There is also lot more emotional intensity when we talk about a person’s deep feelings of anxiety than when we talk about their migraine headaches or back pain.

The problem is that mental health issues are common. Of every thirty students, seven will be dealing with a mental health issue, but only two of those seven students will seek help. Every time one of us pushes through the awkwardness to have positive discussions about mental health it reduces the stigma that surrounds it. It tells others that they have nothing to be ashamed of and that they don’t have to carry their burdens alone. It makes it okay to be open and honest, it makes it acceptable and normal to seek help.

With R U OK Day fast approaching, take a bold step. If you are worried about a friend, ask them. If you have been keeping an issue to yourself, tell someone or seek help. Let’s break the stigma of discussing mental health together.

If you have a son in Year 7 or 8, let him know about our ‘R U Okay Day – Afternoon Chat’ event next Wednesday 5 September, from 2:35pm to 3:30pm. Featuring guest speakers, music and snacks, the event will provide your son with a great opportunity to chat to his classmates in a relaxed environment. For more information click HERE.

Wondering how to ask someone if they’re okay? What are the right questions to ask? Click here.

‘Pick my Project’ is a Victorian community grants initiative that encourages all community members to vote on their favourite project ideas within their local community. Click here to vote.