So, let’s talk about one of my biggest pet peeves – when people use the words ‘suffering with mental health’. It isn’t usually done with any kind of damaging intent but I can’t help feeling that it is damaging.
Here’s the thing – WE ALL HAVE MENTAL HEALTH AND IT ISN’T SOMETHING WE SUFFER WITH.
When I hear people say ‘I suffer with mental health’ it bugs me. I understand what they’re trying to say but what about saying ‘I have a mental health problem/a mental health difficulty/a mental illness’?
After all, we don’t say ‘I’m suffering with physical health’. We say something like ‘My physical health is poor right now/I’m in poor shape physically/I have *insert physical ailment here*’
And that makes much more sense, right?
Here’s why this annoys me so much: by saying ‘I suffer with mental health’, we’re giving mental health negative connotations when that shouldn’t be the case. We’re perpetuating the idea that mental health is something to be frowned upon, ashamed of, suffered with. Mental health is not something that is inherently bad or good, it simply is. We all have physical health and we do things to take care of it – go for check ups, eat well, exercise. We all have mental health, shouldn’t we treat it in the same way? The reality is that the majority of us don’t, we ignore it until there is a crisis.
But what if we didn’t do that? What if we treat our mental health the same way we treat our physical health? What if we acknowledge that it’s always there and we realise that we need to be proactive in caring for it. You don’t have to have a diagnosed mental illness to care for your mind. It should be a given, it should be the norm.
Maybe if we had a shift in attitude towards our mental health we would then treat mental illness and crisis differently? Maybe if we treated mental health like physical health we would view a person with depression/anxiety/bipolar/etc in the same way we view a person with cancer/epilepsy/heart disease – with empathy and compassion, not fear, judgement and mistrust.
Maybe if we spoke about mental health in the same way we do our physical health there would be less stigma around saying that our mental health isn’t so great or that we do have a mental illness?
What are your thoughts? Do you look after your mental health in the same way as your physical health? If you don’t, why not?
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