Suffering in Silence: The Buried Mental Health Crisis

Do you know that as of today, 75% of young people with mental heath problems aren’t receiving treatment and their average waiting time for effective treatment is staggering 10 years?

Do you also know suicide is the biggest killers amongst men and women between the ages of 20-34, specifically men? That’s according to MQ Mental Health and the statistics aren’t getting any better.

Of course, we are all aware suicide rates are beyond shocking. We as a society are also fully aware that people are being diagnosed with mental health problems more than ever before, yet the stigma surrounding mental health remains, making our society look completely ignorant.

Our knowledge when it comes to mental health is extremely poor. Negative views are held by people of all ages and those with mental health problems can experience this stigma and discrimination from family members, friends, teachers, work colleagues and health professionals including our own GPs.

Young people are often stereotyped as ‘too young to be stressed’ and students are seen as individuals who are lazy, drunk, high and party every weekend. You can’t be blamed for thinking this of course, it’s how they’re perceived in todays’ world. What you probably don’t think about is the fact that they could be struggling for a number of reasons.

Mental health problems affect around 1 in 10 children and young people – they include depression, anxiety and conduct disorder and are often a direct response to what’s happening in their lives. In my recent survey, 54% said they had depression whilst 88% said they had anxiety – more than half had been diagnosed. These ages ranged from 16-58 years of age.

Within the last year, rates of student suicide in the UK have risen by 50% and with the stress of deadlines and exams, many students find it hard to cope. They lock themselves in their room, isolating themselves from friends and family in fear of being a burden. Years go by where they seek no help before it becomes the ‘norm’ – nobody thinks much of it as it’s the ‘usual behaviour’ of that individual. This turns into a deadly cycle, creating a negative environment, thus, creating more problems. But exams aren’t the only factors of stress.

One respondent said: “I get cold sweats waiting to be seated in a restaurant. Dry mouth and nervous shakes having to talk to a room of people. Depression stemming from not feeling good enough and as though I’m disappointing everyone. Not living up to the ridiculous standards that I’ve set for myself and then plummeting into an extreme low when I don’t achieve them. Constantly worrying about what others think and over analysing every word, look and action to be 100% against you in every way.”

Another added: “I often worry about exams, friends and relationships. Expectations – ‘Am I going to get married or have kids? Will I graduate and move out?’ You’re asked that from a young age – I don’t mind it but when you’re asked again and again, it gets to you. I worry about this on a daily basis.”

Loneliness seems to be another major factor with one saying: “Even though I have many friends I’m on my own at weekends and at night. I can’t do things I used to be able to do. I’m always comparing myself to others, it’s tiring but you can’t help it.”

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Symptoms to look out for include lack of interest and socialising, low self-esteem, mood swings, fatigue and weight-loss. Many people find it embarrassing to be diagnosed as they think they’ll be treated differently or lose friends. But we need to make clear that there’s nothing to be embarrassed about and no, it’s not just in our heads.

In the survey, respondents noted what contributes to their mental health problems and those included:

  • Homesickness
  • Bullying/Friendships
  • Exams/Deadlines
  • Social events
  • Expectations (e.g. relationships and life goals)
  • College, work, university, school
  • Loneliness and not feeling good enough

Despite the front many celebrities put across social media, they too also suffer – Chris Evans, Demi Lovato, Zayn Malik, Ellen DeGeneres, Dwayne Johnson and Adele being just a few.

The latest figures from a Medical News Today survey found that more than half of respondents said the use of social media changed their behaviour in a negative way. Those who said that stated it made them feel less confident after comparing themselves online to others.

Kristin Bell also suffers from anxiety and depression and in an interview with ‘theoffcamerashow’, she said:

“You would never deny a diabetic their insulin, but for some reason when someone needs medication, they’re crazy – it’s a very interesting double standard.”

For some people using medication works, but for others, they don’t. We must remember it’s not a one size fits all. Many feel better by meditating, exercising, listening to music or talking to a therapist but staying offline is number one when it comes to our mental health.

The controversy around social media always leaves people debating. Is it good or bad? The internet in general is making us more anxious, costing us sleep, ruining our moods, causing eating disorders amongst other issues and yet for many of us, checking social media is of the first things we do after we hit the snooze button – that is of course if you haven’t fallen back asleep!

According to a study by CBBC Newsround, almost 96% of 13 to 18-year olds are using some form of social media with more than 78% of under 13-year-olds using the same sites – despite being below the minimum age requirement.

Because of social media, children are exposed to toxic environments, far more than any previous generation and bullying doesn’t just end at the school gates as we all know. Social media has changed how we interact with each other and in turn, the way we behave. With more than 2 billion users online, it’s not hard to see why we’ve developed a range of problems.

Dr Trevor Lakey, Health Improvement and Inequalities Manager at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “Virtually every day there’s news on the risks and dangers of the worlds of the web and social media for our young people’s wellbeing. And of course, there’s no smoke without fire – there’s a growing body of evidence of the negative impacts that the digital world can have.”mental health

These facts and statistics alone show that if we don’t act now and make changes surrounding social media, mental health and break the stigma we have worked so hard to fight against; we’ll face an endless cycle of negativity far worse than we’re currently experiencing.

By keeping these conversations going and by continuing to share stories, we will soon make this the new ‘norm’ – not the sitting in our rooms, crying, afraid to talk ‘norm’.

Eventually, we will break the stigma surrounding mental health, because if not now, when?

Sophie

Mainly blog about skin-care & travel. You may have noticed my obsession with Paris, chocolate and tea…

Find me on: Twitter | Facebook

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13 Comments

  1. 2nd May 2018 / 9:31 am

    It’s so true. I’ve always struggled with my mental health and have spoken about it a bit on my blog too. I’ve grown up around people who have been through serious trauma and never dealt with their issues, it’s the whole ‘bury your head in the sand’ thing, but I did think it was getting better with our generation. We are more open, and more aware but it doesn’t seem to be translating into any sort of legislation or extra support. I’m just so glad more of us are talking about it, and more of us now have access to a huge wealth of support online from peers and people alike. I waited so long for therapy on the NHS that I ended up going to a charity to get some help, which ended up being quicker.

    Thanks for writing this, it’s so important!

    Ysabelle x
    http://www.thegrahamsmiths.com

    • Sophie
      Author
      6th May 2018 / 4:52 pm

      I’m away to check your posts about MH! It’s so important to keep talking about them. I wish I were taught all about it in school! Thank you for reading this and talking openly about it! X

  2. 2nd May 2018 / 4:01 am

    It really is very sad that mental health is brushed off so easily. Just because it doesn’t show on a blood test report or there’s nothing in black and white to prove that the person is actually suffering from something people take it very lightly. I think being mentally ill is far more dangerous than being physically ill. Really hope this gets better.

    • Sophie
      Author
      6th May 2018 / 4:54 pm

      Wow! That sentence about no showing up in a blood test jus about sums it up – well said! Physical health and mental heath are just as important as each other although I do have to agree that if we don’t do anything now, mental health will be far worse than physical due to it’s stigma!

      • 6th May 2018 / 7:43 pm

        You’re right I really hope it gets better. But I have faith I think the younger generation is less taboo about it than the previous ones

        • Sophie
          Author
          11th May 2018 / 10:44 pm

          Agreed! It’s being spoken about so much this month and I’m so glad. Hopefully this is the beginning 👏🏽

  3. 1st May 2018 / 11:04 pm

    I may be just border line “old school” when it comes to anxiety and depression. What I mean by this is, I’ve probably been both but I’d never really admit it. I know I’m an anxious person sometimes, I hate crowds, I’m not very peopley and I’d rather not be in social situations if I can help it! I gained alot of this from my previous relationship mind as I pretty much wasn’t allowed to leave the house for longer than it took to do a school run without having a million and ten questions thrown at me. Before this I was an outgoing, laid back type that got on with anyone, anywhere and was rather sociable. I had friends I could call on and would go out with most days but it all just took a turn and I spent most my days sat home (I say sat, I was running about after 8 kids & my ex), curtains closed most days and avoided contact with anyone other than doing school runs.

    It is great that people can get information out about mental health and make people aware of it, It is sad to know how many people do suffer, seriously suffer with it and that it really isn’t considered as much as it should be.

    I’d hate to see my kids suffering with any mental illness, mine are too young for social media at the moment but if what I see on there is anything to go by I’d like to keep them out of that world as long as I possibly can (which is almost nearly impossible as most things now even homework have kids searching the net).

    I think I’ll take more time to look into mental health as myself personally I’ve never looked at it as an illness. (Just being honest, think it could possibly be my era or maybe I’ve just been blind to it like most)

    Thank you for sharing, this has opened my eyes to it a lot more!

    I look forward to delving deeper and doing some research 😊 xx

  4. lolitambonita
    1st May 2018 / 9:17 pm

    A fantastic post – mental health is not talked about enough and is stigmatized way too much. I know so many people that are scared to share and talk about how bad they feel inside! It took me years to pluck up the courage to try and talk to someone when I finally signed up I want given an appointment for over 7 months and then they were in the middle of the work day and I couldn’t make it so I was written off. There is not enough support what so ever! WE NEED TO DO MORE!

    • Sophie
      Author
      1st May 2018 / 9:18 pm

      Written off!? That’s ridiculous. Sorry you went through that. There is definitely not enough help nor knowledge of MH and it’s stigma. Hopefully that will soon change

  5. 1st May 2018 / 8:11 pm

    It’s absolutely deplorable the waiting time for adiquitte treatment, I’m glad that MH is talked about more but I still don’t feel there has been enough change. So many people try to romanticize it but for people who suffer from any sort of MH issues it’s exhausting fighting to be heard and taken serious but the fight must go on. Social media can be amazing, it’s such a fantastic part of life but it’s also a frightening part of life as it can suck the life out of you and elevate MH further. Glad to see this post and the awareness being brought to this subject.

    • Sophie
      Author
      1st May 2018 / 8:13 pm

      Thank you! I agree, I think social media is good and bad, it really depends on how we chose to use it. However I hate to say that (like you said) MH is being romanticised. It’s not a beautiful thing, it’s draining & needs to be spoken about more x
      Thank you so much for your comment

  6. 26th April 2018 / 10:31 pm

    A fab post, I’m happy to see that this is being spoken about as I have anxiety & depression which I take medication for.
    Our lives are totally different from what it was like for our parents & grandparents. I often feel exhausted from social media but having to run my business through it means very little chance of getting away from it.

    I feel of people were more open minded that it would make it easier for those of us that deal with mental health issues every day to be open about it more.

    So sad to see it affecting people younger and younger.
    I’m a worrier, perfectionist, often never feel good enough with regards to my social media, blog & Business. It’s a daily struggle.

    Thank you for speaking about it

    Lynsey

    • Sophie
      Author
      26th April 2018 / 10:51 pm

      Thank you for your amazing comment – I honestly would have never of guessed judging by your social media so it just goes to show that we don’t really know what people are going through. Hopefully the more people that talk about it, the more the stigma will be broken, I really appreciate you leaving this comment, Lynsey x

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