Stigma and mental health… Time to talk?

time to talk stigma
In the wake of #timetotalk day, we consider the stigma and isolation of mental health problems


When was the last time you talked about how you were really feeling? For some people, it comes naturally. They feel comfortable doing so and surround themselves with others who are happy to have this kind of conversation. For others, however, it’s not that simple and the stigma they feel can be overwhelming.

If you have been living with depression or anxiety for months, or even years, it can become very difficult ­­to open up and have that type of conversation. Let’s consider just two of the symptoms of depression:

  • Reduced interaction with other people
  • Low self-esteem.

Even just taking these two factors into consideration, one can start to understand how hard it is for someone living with depression to talk about it.

Let us consider the fact that depression is extremely difficult to live with, but then throw into the mix, the associated isolation, shame and stigma that people experience and maybe that gives us some insight into how hard it can be.

Time to change have collated a series of videos where people open up about their experience of living with mental health issues and the associated shame and stigma.

The young man who remembers his dad telling him to ‘man up’, the teenager who recalls the panic attack she experienced in public to then be told she was embarrassing.

Let’s just think about that from a slightly different perspective….If someone falls over and breaks their arm in public, do we tell them to stop crying and get on with it? No, we typically don’t. We offer them support and try and get them the help they need; whether that be getting them to a hospital or taking them home. Mental health problems can remain unseen though.

A broken arm is visible; anxiety isn’t so easy to spot.  

We need to be more alert to the symptoms and look out for signs that our friends, family and colleagues might be struggling. Mind have created guides for friends and family to some of the key mental health problems, to help people understand how to talk to anyone they may be concerned about.

Times they are a changing?

Campaigns like #timetotalk are trying to lift the taboo on mental health. Events are being held across the country. Businesses are getting involved and the country is beginning to talk about it. With support in the form of royalty, celebrities and sporting heroes, one can only hope that this move is one small step that could have a big impact on how we perceive mental health problems. One can only hope so.

Freedom Therapy is based in Belper, Derbyshire and offers one to one counselling and psychotherapy. Belper is easy to reach with direct regular train access from Duffield, Derby and Matlock. Our therapy room is on the A6 so is easily commutable from Ashbourne, Darley Abbey, Allestree and beyond for those looking for psychotherapy. Do get in touch if you feel we can be of benefit to you. We are also able to support businesses with mental health awareness and supporting their employees.