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Exploring the face of mental health
The world has a population of around 7.3 billion people. Each person has their own characteristics which make them unique to our world and as a society we tend to like to categorise people.
Tall, short, slim, overweight, light, dark, blue eyes, brown eyes, rich, poor etc. We all get sucked into the labelling game and it tends to start from a young age.
The most violent element in society is ignorance. – Emma Goldman
We are guilty of building up stereotypes in our heads that fall in line with the way society has programmed us to think. We are told what is considered normal, what is strange and unacceptable and the type of people we should aspire to be like.
Over the years, some people have tried to break free from this pigeonholed way of thinking. They may have been labelled themselves as ‘rebelious’, the awkward type, always wanting to change things.
It is now 2018, although again you didn’t need me to tell you that. We have come a long way over the past few decades. I am a child of the 80’s and recognise that a lot has changed in my life time, and I’m not just talking about the fashion!
Society will unfortunately always have people who wont accept change. Those who will never open their minds to the lives of others. Prejudices will always exist for a lot of people and stereotypical thought processes will inevitable be passed down through some generations.
This is an unfortunate and sad aspect to life.
You have the power to change your thought process and to pass on healthy attitudes to the next generations to come.
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The mental health stigma is real
From a mental health perspective, I do feel in my heart that we are making some progress towards the mental health stigma. That a change is coming in how society perceives mental health and how it prioritises mental wellbeing on the whole.
However the mental health stigma is very real and much work needs to be done. Unfortunately I do feel that for some people, their attitude towards people with mental illnesses will take some time to change.
The common misconceptions will still linger:
”she’s a bit cookoo that one ! “
”I’m surprised the men in the white coats haven’t come for them!”
”He’s tapped in the head “
”They have never been the same since their loved one died”
”He’s a right weirdo!”
We have all heard these statements. A lot of us may have said them throughout our lives. I’m not writing this to call you out, I’m simply suggesting that its time to put this way of thinking to bed now. Its time to sack the stigma.
RBF ???? WTF is an RBF??
This my friends is the ‘Resting bitch face’. This is a term used amongst my close friends, whom may I add are bloody lovely, supportive people, its our little joke for how the perceived me when they first met me. This is the term used to describe a person who does not have a particularly smiley, welcoming expression, shall we say.
I have an RBF ! I confess, and all my life my face has put up with some stick from other people let me tell you. Typical comments have included:
” Hi smiler!”
” What’s up with your face ?”
” Put your face straight! “
” Smile, it might never happen !”
” When I first met you, I though you were a right miserable cow! “
You get the gist ? Now growing up, this used to really upset me. I would try to ‘put my face straight’ before entering a room, or whilst sat on public transport. I would have face ache from trying to keep my fake expression just so I didn’t offend anyone with my RBF.
Now as well as my RBF I also have depression. You see how the two don’t really mix very well 😂
Not my problem !
Fast forward into my late 20’s and I realised that actually, there is absolutely nothing wrong with my face. Yes I am not smiley, I don’t walk around the streets grinning like the Cheshire Cat, I am fully aware that I often looked pissed off. But……. I am also a good person, I have a brilliant sense of humour, I am kind and thoughtful and above all I don’t care about my face anymore. I know that once someone gets to know me, they will soon lose that impression of me.
It is everyone else’s issue. Not mine. Never has the saying “ Dont judge a book by its cover “ been more true.
What can be meant as a totally innocent comment can in fact cut like a knife. You never know what a person is carrying around with them emotionally. What they may be dealing with at home or work. If they have had bad news or if they have experienced a terrible trauma.
People with mental illnesses often become masters of covering up what’s going on below the surface. More often than not, you will never know what someone is going through.
Always think before you speak. Perhaps a ‘Hi are you ok ? ‘ would be nice ?
What does a person with mental health issues look like?
It’s so common. It could be anyone. The trouble is, nobody wants to talk about it. And that makes everything worse. – Ruby Wax
Just to clarify, a person with mental health problems does not
A – Look like Frankenstein
B – Does not where a sandwich board, advertising their medical history
C – Does not have it tattooed across their foreheads, making it clear for all for the stereotypers out there.
A person who has any form of mental health issue looks like (in no particular order) : Your relative, your best friend, your neighbour, the checkout operator at the supermarket, your bus driver, your child’s school teacher, maybe even your doctor ? 😱
Yes …… everyone. Tall, short, slim, curvey, black, white, green and blue.
Point made ✅
Start the conversation
#mentalhealthawareness week #mentalhealthawarenessmonth #itsoktotalk #mentalhealthmatters #headstogether
We now know what mental health looks like. (Please see above)
We have national awareness campaigns. But we cannot just be aware for a week here and there, it has to be each day.
Looking after each other, taking note of the people around us, listening to each other and asking questions. It will take time to break down the mental health stigma, but with time comes change.
I also want to make the point that, everyone has to take care of their mental health. It’s not just people who are diagnosed and under medical treatment.
People forget that stress is part of mental health, stress is a huge factor in everyone’s lives. It also causes numerous medical conditions too like, insomnia, weight gain/loss, irritability, high blood pressure.
It’s strange that we can turn to the next person and say, ‘ I’m so stressed today’ yet we feel we can’t say, ‘I’m really low at the moment’ or ‘my anxiety is really high lately’.
C’mon people, let’s do this. Turn to the person next to you, ask them how they are. Make sure your doing your part to break down the mental health stigma.
If you need ideas for ways to start conversations around the subject of mental health then please check out this post here.
Do you feel that progress is being made ? Do you talk openly about your mental health ? What are your views on the mental health stigma?