Lets End the Stigma Around Mental Health

by Ella Dunthorne

13 May 2021

We wanted to make a post which explores the topic of mental health and young people for Mental Health Awareness Month. A huge problem is the stigma around mental health, especially in young people.

But, what is stigma?

Stigma is defined as, ‘a mark of disgrace that sets a person apart from others’. [1]

Many young people who have a mental health condition can feel shame about something they can’t change. The number of children with these disorders has increased in recent years.

According to the NHS, ‘in 2020, 1 in 6 children aged 5 to 16 years were identified as having a probable mental disorder, increasing from 1 in 9 in 2017’. [2]

A common view about mental health issues is that they only affect adults. But, mental illness can affect anyone. We may blame puberty for young people experiencing mood swings. However, puberty can cause mental illness.

‘50% of all mental health problems start by the age of 14’. [3]

With so many young people having a mental health disorder, it is important for us to help to end the stigma. Many young people suffer in silence. This is because they do not want to be stigmatised. Without these conversations, they cannot access the support they so desperately need.

A 2020 report by The Children’s Society, called ‘Waiting in Line,’ showed that lots of young people were reluctant to discuss their mental health as they did not want to be judged. Others spoke about why they did not ask for help. One young person, aged 15, said that they would be “Scared of what would happen.” [4]

How can I help to end the stigma surrounding mental health?

The first step to ending the stigma is to learn about mental health.

Whether you have experienced mental health struggles or not, now is a great time to read up on mental illness. You can also talk to a close friend or your family about their experiences. Make sure they are happy to have this chat first of course. But, even just asking them how they have been doing can help you to understand more about mental health.

Are there any charities who can help?

Luckily, there are charities who can help. HeadsUP Mental Health Awareness CIC is one of them. They are a charity which aims to break down the stigma surrounding mental health. They also help children and young people to start discussing their mental health.

Paula Baker, who works at HeadsUP Mental Health Awareness CIC, said that “The most rewarding part of my job is when young people show that they are thinking about their mental health on the same level as their physical health. And the peer education work we do. Also, seeing young people educating each other and showing that mental health is okay to talk about.”

She also said, “If I could give one piece of advice about children’s mental health it would be that you can never be too young to talk about your mental health, emotions and wellbeing. Just the same as we teach young people to look after their physical health by cleaning their teeth, eating healthily and doing exercise. We should all be teaching young people to look after their mental health too!”

This charity runs free group sessions. These help young people to become more confident in talking about mental health, looking after their wellbeing and learning about their mental and physical health.

Other free projects they run are:

• Forward Thinking – teaching young people ways to look after their mental wellbeing.

• Youth Sport Clubs and Teams- mental health awareness sessions for sports team coaches and players.

Your donations can help us to end the stigma. And, with Givey, HeadsUP can receive 100% of your donations.

To donate to this charity click on the following link: https://www.givey.com/headsupmentalhealthawarenesscic

For more information about HeadsUP and to see the many other projects you can sign up for follow this link: https://headsupmha.com/what-headsup-offer/

Sources:

[1] Fact sheet on what is stigma (health.wa.gov.au)

[2] https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/mental-health-of-children-and-young-people-in-england/2020-wave-1-follow-up

[3] https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-we-do/our-work/well-being/mental-health-statistics

[4] https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/sites/default/files/2020-12/waiting-in-line.pdf

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