Admitting that you have/do suffer from mental illness is one of life's big taboos. You worry that people might treat you differently or that it could effect your career. But in reality, it will do neither of those things, all it will do is help you deal with the negative thoughts swirling around your head. It's time we get rid of the stigma surrounding mental illness and I think the #ItAffectsMe campaign is a good start.
#ItAffectsMe was created by Laura Darrall. She suffered a mental breakdown last year and only pulled through after reaching out to her family and friends. Now she wants to create awareness of mental health issues and destroy the stigma that undoubtedly surrounds them.
People have already started posting all across social media:
She suggests you post your photo to Facebook along with the following message:
Mental Illness affects every single one of us, whether through family, friends or ourselves and it is time the world recognised that and the stigma ended. Post a selfie with a post stick note on your forehead with #itaffectsme and donate to Mind now. Let's be the change we want to see. Share, share, share and donate! #mentalhealthawarenesss #ItAffectsMe
Here's the original message that Laura uploaded to youtube to start her campaign:
I caught up with Laura earlier this week to discuss #ItAffectsMe.
Why did you start this campaign?
I started this campaign to get people talking, I suffered from a mental breakdown last year after years of OCD, panic attacks and anxiety and it was only through talking and reaching out to people that I managed to pull through. Mental illness can be so isolating because as well as not having the energy to interact with people you also don't want them to worry about you, or to bring them down. I started this campaign to show the universality of these illness, to show that it doesn't matter how old you are, where you're from, whether you have five fruit or veg a day mental illness can affect every single one of us. And it's not just the sufferers that are affected it is the families, friends and partners too, we all need a voice so I wanted to try and give us one.
What do you hope it will achieve?
I hope this campaign will make people unafraid to talk, to be able to say to someone 'I'm suffering from depression' as easily as they could say 'I've broken my leg'. I want to make sure David Cameron sticks to his billion pound pledge for mental health care and to get it taught in schools alongside sex eduction and physical education. It is just as important.
Was it scary posting about your own experience of mental illness?
I thought it would be scary posting about my own experiences of mental illness but actually it has been the most liberating experience of my life. I have had so many people message me out of the blue to say "thank you, me too" and if I can give support or affirmation to just one person then whatever fear I may have is irrelevant.
Why is it so important that people should feel comfortable to share their illness with friends and colleagues?
I think it is so so important to share what you are struggling with with friends and colleagues because if ever there comes a point when you are not strong enough to fight the illness, they can be there to help, to hold your hand and steady your course. The most invaluable thing my best friend told me when I was suffering was to take it '10 seconds at a time' because when you are suffering with the depression the future seems impossible, but if you can conquer that first ten seconds then you can conquer the next. You never know what people are going through, and if you share your experiences you might find that someone looks up and says, "me too."
What do you think about the recent cuts in NHS provision for people with mental health issues?
Cuts to the mental health sector is unforgivable. As are all cuts to the NHS. People who suffer from mental health issues are some of the most vulnerable in our society and need the most support so to cut resources from them is simply appalling and not good enough. We should be flooding money into our healthcare system, to our junior doctors and to all areas. The government needs to focus on the mental welfare of its people because then we can begin to build a society that we are proud to live in.
I think this is a really important campaign that will hopefully help irradiate the stigma that surround mental illness. If you have suffered, please do share, the more people who post the more normal this debilitating becomes. If you would like to donate to 'mind' please click here.