This week, if you weren’t already aware, is Mental Health Awareness Week.
Over the last few years, the way we speak about mental health has progressed incredibly and it has become increasingly more acceptable to admit that you might not actually be okay.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and depression are better understood as time goes on and more and more people are coming forward and telling their stories and struggles surrounding their own experiences with mental health, from either a first-hand perspective or how they’ve seen it affect someone else.
But just because things are slowly getting better, it doesn’t mean that it’s time to stop the discussion. It will never be time to stop discussing mental health.
This is especially true because mental health-care is still horrifically underfunded. We need people to keep using their voices to make sure that not only they are heard, but those without a voice (or feel as if they don’t have a voice) are heard too.
We need to continue to talk about mental illness so people know that it’s real and that it could affect them. We need celebrities and people of influence to open up, so that we’re reminded that it can happen to anyone.
While mental illness is becoming a much more discussed issue, it needs to remain this way so that people are able to more openly discuss their issues and get the help that they need. It needs to remain this way so that younger generations can receive better and more informed support in the future.
Jaime-Lee Cunningham is President of the Students’ Union here at Staffordshire University and has been working hard during her time in the role to end the stigma and improve services surrounding mental health. She said:
“As the Students’ Union, we’ve worked on breaking down the stigma and then this year we’ve worked on improving the services.
“We were able to get people to use the services on offer and we’ve got the University to improve them.
“We’re now currently working with the National Health Service and are aiding them in their research.
“For us, this is now on a national scale.”
Discussing mental health support on a bigger level, she said:
“Nationally, cuts are a likelihood and some cuts have already been made. More and more people are asking for help.
“There’s still a stigma in society and people don’t respect it – a lot of people don’t realise that suicide and mental health-related issues are some of the biggest killers in the country.
“Government cuts are only going to make things harder. There’s still a lot of work to do.”
Here at the Students’ Union, there are a number of Mental Health campaigns continuing from our Wellbeing Week, held earlier in the year. If you ever feel that you need someone to speak to, come and make sure that you’re heard.