WHY IS TALKING ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH STILL A TABOO?

Francesca Dobson

It’s not sex anymore, today’s taboo is mental health – so we need to get talking about it

Back in the day, talking about sex was frowned upon, or simply not done. Then the 60’s and 70s happened. I’m not suggesting that now it’s a topic you discuss with your colleagues in the office kitchen whilst the tea is brewing, but the taboo has clearly been diminishing over the years and at least amongst close friends it is something that people feel they can talk about.

Yet strangely, mental health continues to be a taboo subject, even though one in four of us in Britain will experience a mental health problem in any given year – let alone a lifetime. It’s interesting because the majority of people can’t wait to tell you about a pulled muscle, a broken leg, or back pain, whilst mental health continues to have huge stigma associated with it even if usually the causes are just as out of your control as having an accident that ends in a physical injury.

Today is Time To Talk Day, an initiative led by mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, aimed at encouraging people in Britain to open-up about mental health. This could mean doing anything from a phoning a friend to talk about your problem or having a chat over a cup of tea with a loved one about theirs.  Lack of communication about a mental health issue is a huge problem, with 28% of people waiting for more than a year to tell their family about a mental health illness.

And it’s very much a chicken/egg situation: it’s taboo so no one talks about it, and because no one talks about it, it becomes a taboo topic. The result is that 58% of sufferers say the stigma and discrimination is actually damaging to them or makes it harder to deal with a mental illness than the illness itself.

It’s time to break the taboo. Let’s talk about mental health.

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