September is Green Ribbon Month – a mental health campaign run by SeeChange.
SeeChange have run this campaign every year for the past eleven years, aiming to spread awareness about all mental health difficulties to help end mental health stigma and discrimination. Each year has a different theme, and this year’s theme is ‘judgement’.
We all know the phrase ‘it’s ok to be not ok, and it’s ok to ask for help’, but stigma is still a very present issue around mental health in Irish society. As a result, some people still feel ashamed of having mental health problems, and will hide them from other people. This means that these people don’t seek help, and continue to suffer and struggle on their own. In fact, 50% of people would consider hiding a mental health difficulty from their family and friends. And yet, family and friends can be a great source of support and can help you navigate the process of getting help for your mental health. In fact, in our 2019 student mental health report, 77% of participants wanted more information on how to support a friend going through a tough time.
It’s really important to know that there is no shame in struggling with your mental health. One in four of us will experience this at some point in our lives, so you are not alone.
Whether you have mental health problems yourself or not, there are things that you can do to help reduce stigma:
- start a conversation about mental health with a friend, family member or colleague
- small things make a big difference – ask someone how they are doing (and really listen to the answer!), or go for a coffee and talk about how things are, honestly
- talk, but listen too – simply being there can mean a lot
- don’t just talk about mental health with someone who is struggling – chat about everyday things (they are more than their mental illness)
- educate yourself (www.seechange.ie, or check out the resources at www.mentalhealth.usi.ie)
- don’t be afraid – people with mental illness are still people, they aren’t dangerous, but they might be scared or lonely.