Driving always allows me to think. Today was no exception. My diary had been full with clients and I was using the time on my own to process and reflect on today’s work. During this time, the song ‘This is me’ by Keala Settle (from the Greatest Showman) came onto my radio.
I found the words poignant. ‘I am not a stranger to the dark…’ It made me think how often my clients are in dark places. Their thoughts are scrambled. They are exhausted. They feel ashamed. They feel they have let themselves and others down. They know it is a horrible place and often do now want those close to them know they are coming to counselling. They feel alone. They are scared. They feel there has been no right time or place to talk about their difficulties.
The song goes on to say ……’I am brave, I am bruised…..But I won’t let them break me down to dust.’
It made me think that despite all the feelings mentioned above, my clients are brave. They’ve admitted that they are experiencing a problem and they want to bring change into their life. It is not easy coming to counselling for the first time! My clients go on a counselling journey of self-exploration and eventually their shame turn into pride and they are ready to step forward with confidence and self-esteem out of my door.
This is me – #timetotalk
As the song continues with ‘I’m not scared to be seen. I make no apologies, this is me.’ It made me reflect on today’s #timetotalk day.
#timetotalk aims to tackle the stigma of mental health. It wants people suffering from mental health not to make no apologies. It aims to get people talking about mental health. All of us (including us professionals) need to join together to break the stigma around mental health. In other words, break the silence. We need to show that by talking about this once-taboo subject does not need to be difficult or bring shame.
I need to talk
A friend recently commented that she could never be friends with my page Professional Facebook Page, as her family will think there is something wrong with her. I was struck by her embarrassment to mental health. I asked her how she defined mental health. Her response was vague with inappropriate language. On reflection, I realised that perhaps I was failing in my approach on how I talked about mental health. I need to show that standing up to mental health, encouraging conversations, and engaging with people is a positive way to talk about mental health. This could help stop people feeling isolated and play a real part to their recovery.
Even more alarming these figures are include a high percentage of young people. The average age of onset for depression is 14, as diagnosed now, compared to 45 in the 1960s. These figures are staggering. We do need to shout louder about mental health. A lot of clients who come to me who are suffering from stress, anxiety or depression. They need to talk. They need to make sense of their problem themselves. They need to be heard. They need to stop feeling ashamed of themselves.
I find myself often reassuring my clients that they are ok. They will be ok. They need not be scared. I encourage them to find the strength to look deep into themselves and find their own way through the fog. They need to accept themselves. In other words, make no apologies.
We all have a time in our life when we feel down. It is ok to reach out. When people reach out, we need to welcome them with open arms and listen. Being heard and believed can be a big step to us believing in ourselves, and can help our recovery, as well as feel less isolated and ashamed.
The song ends.….Another round of bullets hits my skin. Well, fire away ’cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in. LET US TALK TODAY AND TAKE THE STEP TO BREAK DOWN THE SILENCE AROUND MENTAL HEALTH
Other articles on Mental Health and Stigma can be found here