It’s world mental health day today, which has the worthy goal of trying to end the stigma around mental illness. But we also need to ensure that the help people ask for is actually there – and while a lot of that is about funding, it also means education. Some of that education is needed within the health service as well as outside of it.
One of my friends recently took the big step of seeing his GP about his mental health, and was spoken to like a criminal: he was effectively told that if he thought his GP was an easy mark and that he’d walk out of there with a prescription for drugs, he had another think coming.
I’ve encountered similar cluelessness. Qualified mental health professionals have told me that the solution to my depression was to “get a wee part-time job” and to remember that “there are brown babies in Africa that have it a lot worse than you do.”
Such people are rare, I know, but when you consider the effort it can take to stand up in the first place, and in the case of actual counselling the long waits to see anybody, it’s another obstacle that can prevent people getting the help we’re urging them to ask for.