Associate Feature: Kindness needs to be the default for people with mental illness
Imagine a world where you feel misunderstood, left out and unable to pursue the most basic of human experiences, all because of something that’s outside your control.
That’s the reality for too many people with experience of complex mental illness in Scotland.
See Me’s Scottish Mental Illness Stigma Study, created with the Mental Health Foundation, Glasgow Caledonian University and VOX Scotland, has found that people living with complex mental illnesses are holding back from opportunities; like relationships, engaging in their community, pursuing education and employment, calling out for support when they need it – all because of stigma and discrimination.
From the study, 92 per cent of participants said they have faced stigma and discrimination in relationships with family and friends in the last year. Four in ten of those who said stigma in relationships had the greatest impact, said they stopped themselves from starting a family or having children.
Nearly three quarters (74 per cent) experienced stigma in mental health care services, of those who said it had the biggest impact, 58 per cent had avoided calling an ambulance or attending A&E for emergency mental healthcare. The survey highlights that, despite progress to shift attitudes around mental health problems, prejudice towards people living with mental illness continue to affect people.
For this World Mental Health Day, it’s important we all do what we can to make a difference. This study shows language can be hurtful so it’s important we think before we speak and choose our words carefully. If someone close to you is struggling, lend an ear and take time to understand.
If you have an opportunity to make a difference in policy or practice, work alongside people with lived experience of mental illness, they can help to create spaces where people feel valued, respected and included.
Kindness and compassion cost nothing. So let’s all try bring a little bit more of that to the fore, and work together to create the change.
Wendy Halliday is the director of See Me, Scotland’s programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination
This article is sponsored by See Me