Thanks to Lady Ga Ga and Prince William for drawing our attention to mental health.

Thank you for opening up and sharing with us a transparent dialogue about your experience suffering with PTSD and your subsequent challenges with your mental health, with authenticity and courage.  Lets hope it’s infectious……..

Isn’t it about time we all started to talk more freely?

We share details of our physical lives easily, our diet and exercise plans, our general aches and pains, concerns for the health of a family member.  However when it comes to mental health and well being, its a different matter entirely.

The shame and stigma surrounding mental health issues, are often obstacles when it comes to telling our stories and getting help. Many of us still feel ashamed to speak out about a mental health diagnosis. Often with good reason when we look at the discrimination that exists in and out of the workplace.

Some believe that it means their not strong enough to manage. Some say it shows personal failing. This needs to change so that everyone can get the help they need to thrive.

So where do we start making changes?

I believe that the way in which use language could be a good start.  It’s easy to use stigmatising words which can become embedded in people’s minds from a young age.  Talking would be a good place to start as parents, by encouraging a more supportive and understanding conversation with our children about mental health and well being. We need to explain that mental well being is on a continuum and like anything else, it has ups and downs. It can also be treated, and like other illnesses, people can and do get well from it.

Indeed, the problem we face, seems to be largely one of communication it needs to be encouraged and supported.  This is exactly the point that Prince William is putting across “It’s so important to break open that fear and that taboo.”   Lady Ga Ga talks about acceptance of herself being a turning point and added that people with mental health problems were “not hiding anymore”.  She has shown that self-advocacy can be powerful and empowering.  She has reached out to everyday people who are going through similar experiences which will hopefully be cathartic to others to speak about their challenges.

It’s time that we started looking at mental health in the same way we do physical health.  Lets think about responding to mental illness like we would to physical illness, with compassion, empathy and a willingness to understand and have outdated beliefs challenged.

So I would like to invite anyone that may read this to think about, how could we improve the way we talk about mental health? What could the media do to promote responsible, and considered dialogue about mental well being?

Click here to see some suggestions about to to children about mental health.