Struggling with mental health? Hannah Campling reminds us that stigma still exists, and now is the time to talk about mental health…
On 4 February 2016, Time to Change are holding a nationwide Time to Talk day. Time to Change is an anti-stigma campaign run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. The aim of the day is to give everyone a chance to start conversations about mental health: everything from running an event, starting a blog, or simply asking someone how they are feeling.
Events include a rally by the Labour Campaign for Mental Health on Wednesday, with speakers including Jeremy Corbyn.
Time to Change says nine out of ten people who have a mental health problem face stigma and discrimination, and the way to stop this is to break the silence surrounding mental health problems and get talking. The more we talk, the less stigma will be attached and the more people will be able to ask for help and support each other.
So I wanted to share my experience, because the more of us that do, the sooner the stigma around mental health can be broken down.
I have anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD is quite a good example of the lack of awareness of mental health, since what most people use the term ‘OCD’ for is lining up colouring pencils or cleaning a lot.
That isn’t OCD, although it is true that someone with OCD might clean or tidy a lot. Those are both compulsions some people have. But compulsions are only the actions you take to try and decrease your anxiety, and in a lot of ways, OCD is more about the other bit: obsessions. Again, this isn’t about being obsessed with Doctor Who or cats. It is about being so worried about one thing (or many things) that you just can’t think of anything else.
I feel I also need to stress that I, like most people with OCD, completely know that it is irrational, but knowing that doesn’t help. The compulsions decrease anxiety only temporarily, and actually only reinforce the obsessive thoughts. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is often used to help break this cycle of thoughts and compulsions.
OCD takes many forms. Most fall into one of four categories: checking, contamination, hoarding or intrusive thoughts, and a lot of these forms won’t seem anything like the stereotype of someone with OCD. That’s why #TimetoTalk is vital: so people understand what is going on, and that they are not alone. Not just with OCD, but with every individual experience of mental health – good and bad. We all need to talk about it, because it can always get better.
Share your experience on 4 February for #TimetoTalk and let’s get Warwick talking about mental health!