The mythconceptions of mental health

People with mental health problems do not have the normal range of emotions

It seems, at times, that people with mental health problems are almost disallowed from the normal range of emotions. Whether it is anger, fear, sorrow and happiness, whether it is positive or negative someone will always write off what I am feeling as part of being mentally ill. Wouldn’t you get angry or fearful or sad if everything you felt was attributed to your health problems?

People with mental health problems are always mentally ill

What most people find very difficult to grasp is that someone with a mental health problem, no matter how serious it is, is not always mentally ill. Though we always have the illness it isn’t always visible. If you think of Herpes and cold sores it may help you along with the idea.

People with mental health problems are too sensitive by half

People feel that they can use abusive and discriminatory language about people with mental health problems in your company and when you object to that, particularly in angry tones, you are called unbalanced.

I once told a person in a private conversation that a word that they had used was one I considered to be dreadful. That person went on to accuse me publicly of accusing them of using discriminatory language. One of their friends declared me “mental”. I thought that was one of the least original insults I’d heard all day. Another person used the same term in conjunction with a word that is medical term describing a particular type of mental health problem and insinuated that I was one of those people. All that backlash for daring to say privately that I thought a particular word was dreadful. I was seen to be proving their suspicions that all people with mental health problems were indeed unbalanced and they were seen to be proving my suspicions that discrimination is about fear, lack of education and bad manners.

It’s okay to ignore people with mental health problems

It seems to be a universal rule that if a person with a physical illness makes a request for whatever reason then they tend to be treated with politeness and, even if the request can’t be fulfilled, at least they get a reply. For those of us with mental health problems we tend to be just ignored. Nudge a person and they say they’d overlooked the request or that they’re too busy to check. Too busy to be polite it seems. It’s not rejection that is inexcusable it’s the bad manners that other people deem to be acceptable that is inexcusable.

One thought on “The mythconceptions of mental health

  1. A fantastic, accurate commentary on how things really are for suffers of poor mental health. Insightful, accurate and somewhat emotive, I relate to all points highlighted in this educated observation on common misperceptions. I recently took time off work (and subsequently resigned) from a senior role in healthcare because of a reactive episode of intolerable depression and generalised anxiety. Unfortunately, I was subjected to tangible but indirect discrimination based on my poor mental health, and was put through a gruelling HR performance management process, whereby management did not seem to consider poor mental health as a valid or serious reason for absence. This was demonstrated more clearly by colleagues taking repeated ‘ad-hoc’ days off sick for colds, flu and even surgery, but were not subject to the same rigorous attendence management policy, as their illness was ‘real’ visible and physical, while mine was not as readily apparent. Then, when I became frustrated by the system in which I worked because of the pressures we were all employed under, and consequently voiced my concerns, my mental health was conveniently blamed for my perceived inability to cope in a stressful environment. I became, through no fault of my own, the unbalanced member of staff, and carried that stigmatising label until the day I resigned and never went back. I cannot help thinking that if I was allowed to recover from what was a dip in my illness, I would still be employed. Attitudes are shifting slightly for the better, but an uphill struggle lies ahead. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.