Can Social Media be Used to Reduce Mental Health Stigma?
Mental health difficulties do not discriminate: they can affect anyone
If someone you know is experiencing a problem like depression or anxiety, you may also need support
Talking therapy can help - as can connecting with others who have shared experience
Anxiety and depression, suicide and self-harm, cancer, ADHD and autism are all hot topics at the moment. You hear it on the TV, the radio, the internet, social media; you read it in magazines or in the newspapers. They are everywhere! Everyone knows someone who is or has been affected by all or some of these mental/physiological conditions.
Indeed, anxiety and depression are wide-ranging within the counselling profession. Equally, people of all backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, suffer with depression and anxiety. It does not discriminate at all – ever. In fact, there are many reasons people suffer with these conditions; it could be as a result of a family member suffering with a serious illness like cancer or another life-threatening condition. It could also be because a child has been diagnosed with ADHD or is presenting with autism and the parents themselves do not know what to do or how to manage their child. Having a child who has been diagnosed with cancer or another disability can be devastating to any parent. Parents can go through a whole range of feelings from not only depression and anxiety, but also guilt, shame, sadness, anger, loneliness, hopelessness, helplessness to name but a few. Correspondingly, parents or couples may also end up separating as they battle to go through the trauma of hospital visits and as each one of them deals with the devastating news in their own way - emotionally.
Therapy can help with all of that. It can’t help eradicate the problems, but it can help the individuals involved talk through their fears and worries, concerns and thoughts without ridicule or shame. Talking therapy whether it be counselling, EMDR, hypnotherapy, life coaching, couples therapy, child counselling - all are worthwhile forms of therapy that help people in a safe, non-judgmental and completely confidential setting explore what is worrying them. Talking therapy can also help those individuals find ways of dealing with their difficulties as well as being able to manage their own traumas.
I encourage everyone to engage in a form of talking therapy at some point in their life. It certainly helped me when I was struggling immensely with my issues in my life and I know for sure I would not be the person I am had I not engaged in therapy when I needed it. I did not want to engage in therapy initially because I believed I could do it myself, but of course I could not!
I also encourage those who may be struggling or know people who may be struggling to join my Facebook Group called My Mental Health Buddies. It is a forum which I decided to set up to help anyone who is struggling with a mental health issue as a platform for discussing and exploring any mental health issues. I also wanted it to be a medium for people to debate issues and to gain the confidence to talk their issues through in a safe and non-judgemental setting. I wanted it to be a place where people can share helpful techniques, strategies and ways to combat mental health issues. I decided to set it up because I see a lot of people posting questions on Facebook asking for help specifically when experiencing severe anxiety or severe depression which can be both debilitating and exceptionally alienating. Also I see - with an increasing number of my clients - issues surrounding bullying both at school and in the work place and people / families / children struggling and in some cases taking drastic action - self-harming or attempting to or actually committing suicide. A group which tackles the stigma of mental health, where people can safely and confidently find a way through their own particular difficulty will be - I hope - both helpful and beneficial.