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World Health Day: Mental Health Stigma

Today is World Health Day, and this year the focus is on depression.

So, I was hoping to write a really inspiring post about seeking help if you’re feeling down, or worried about your mental health, but then I read this article. With the title Stop Whoring Out Your Undiagnosed ‘Mental Illness’, you can probably gauge my opinion on it already. So, I thought it would be much more interesting to cover this controversial article instead, as I know a lot of people will undoubtedly be affected by it.

Here we go.

Of course, we have to start by talking about the title of this article. By using the word ‘whoring’, a word with many negative connotations, Hannah (the author of this article) is immediately setting herself up for failure. Let’s be honest, it not only sounds immature and unprofessional but it’s also incredibly disrespectful, to say the least. In fact, I’m surprised that such an offensive title is actually allowed on this site.

Taking a quick skim read of the article, you may be thinking – hang on, it’s not that bad. I mean, she does encourage you to see a doctor if you’re worried about your mental health, so surely she’s promoting a good message? Wrong.

I accept that it’s incredibly important to seek professional advice if you’re worried about your mental health, as I’ve discussed in this post, but Hannah goes about explaining this in the wrong way. Comparing a mental illness to cancer, she writes:

The average person wouldn’t say they have cancer and then ask for support from friends and family without being diagnosed.

Now, cancer and ‘mental illnesses’ are very different. Cancer is a physical illness, which can be identified through scans and other medical assessments, whereas a ‘mental illness’ is not always as obvious. So, why would you compare the two?

Well, it’s clear to see that Hannah is using a fully charged term like ‘cancer’ to make a very drastic comparison, in the hope of gaining some support for her argument. Of course, nobody would ‘say they have cancer and then ask for support from family and friends without being diagnosed’, as this is something that can be proven through a medical diagnosis, whereas a mental illness cannot always be diagnosed in this way.

In addition to this, a mental health diagnosis isn’t necessarily given after one visit to a doctor – it can be a long process for some of us. But, just because we’re yet to receive a diagnosis doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be seeking support from family and friends.

We should be encouraging individuals to speak out about mental health, not condemning it. Yet, according to Hannah, to do so would be ‘delegitimiz[ing] real issues that people face every day.’

Now, let’s be very clear here. I wholly accept that the word ‘depressed’ is used much more freely now. If you’ve had a bad day, you may say that you feel ‘depressed’ when in fact you’re just experiencing a one-off feeling of sadness that is not depression. OK, I get that.

However, Hannah doesn’t clarify this at any point. In her article, she seems to be suggesting that anyone who believes they have a mental health issue is in the wrong until they’ve been given a professional diagnosis.

And yet, there have been numerous moments throughout my life when I’ve considered self-harm or even suicide. There have been times I’ve sat in my car crying because I’ve been too anxious to fill it up with petrol, or to drive to a new destination. Everyday, simple tasks have become incredibly difficult, and some days I haven’t even left my bed.

I have no professional diagnosis.

In this state of mind it can be very difficult to visit a doctor, or to seek professional help.

So when you’re feeling this way, the last thing you need is to read an article that suggests you’re:

negatively impacting the lives of those who actually suffer from any mental illness.

Regardless of your opinion on self-diagnosis, you have to accept that this article is just disrespectful. If you’re already feeling vulnerable about your mental health and then you’re told that you ‘have made lives harder’ by speaking up, or that ‘you have made mental illnesses into a basic b*tch hashtag,’ you’re probably going to doubt your own feelings. And, that’s what ultimately prevents people from seeking help.

So, if you think you have depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue, please do seek professional advice. Speak to your family and friends about how you’re feeling, and get as much support as you can.

Stay strong, and ignore articles like this because the last thing you need is negativity.

You can do this!

What are your opinions on this article? It’s certainly a controversial one.

Don’t forget to follow, with a new post every day at 6pm during the week, and 1pm on a weekend.

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12 thoughts on “World Health Day: Mental Health Stigma

  1. I completely agree with everything you’ve written. The post by Hannah is so judgemental and black and white, it doesn’t acknowledge the struggle some people can have admitting they have a MH problem. I’m glad it’s being roundly dismissed by thoughtful and intelligent responses like yours! X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you said that – I’ve been so worried about posting this! There was so much more I could have said, but I didn’t want to go on and on. It just makes me so sad that people can think it’s as black and white as that, but never mind I suppose! x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think so many people are uneducated, that’s the main issue here at hand. Mental health is just a taboo topic, it just is in today’s world, although I think it is slowly becoming more accepted, there are still many who remain uneducated and decide to make assumptions about something they know nothing about.

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  3. Well done you for writing this – totally agree with you! There’s already so much negativity and stigma about mental illness, it’s so annoying when people add to you. Thank you for trying to spread some positivity!
    Claire xo

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  4. I’ve read this twice, and both times I’ve read the original article and been dumbfounded by the authors comparison between cancer and mental illness. I feel like you have discussed this part very well and I really respect how you have stood your ground and written something that you fully support and believe in. Thank you for sharing this post, it was wonderful!

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    1. It’s just so odd isn’t it?! Why would she make that comparison?! Thank you so much for your comments – I was really worried about posting this because I know it’s a bit controversial so I appreciate your response! x

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  5. A wonderful post by you, and not so much by Hannah. Ignorant people are the worst. I agree with everything you said. The last thing we want is to support negative people. Keep up on writing motivational post! x Ain

    Like

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