Last week Premier League footballer Aaron Lennon was detained under the Mental Health Act by police over concerns for his welfare. The 30-year-old was taken to hospital “for assessment” after police were called to Salford on Sunday. Lennon is now “receiving care and treatment for a stress-related illness”, his club has said.
This was met with overwhelming support from people across the globe. Sure there were the usual ignorant bigots saying things like ‘but he’s getting paid thousands a week’ and ‘he’s living the dream’. But wealth and fame is no repellent for depression. The football world primarily united over their support for Lennon. Tottenham fans were singing Lennon’s name after the announcement was made, to show their former man he had their love and support. A quality gesture and a sign that society is taking mental health much more seriously. Hopefully we see more players come forward and talk about their problems after seeing the affection shown towards Lennon, as players have been unable to talk about their issues in the past whilst still playing, feeling as though the fans in the stands will abuse them.
There are still some extremely backwards people out there who clearly aren’t progressing in modern times. Here’s what Piers Morgan had to say during mental health awareness week:
The only one who is talking utter nonsense here is Piers. To suggest that people with mental health issues don’t deserve help is ludicrous. There are people who are taking their own lives due to their struggles with their mental health. Suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 years in England and Wales. Talking about mental health issues shouldn’t be something to ashamed and should be welcomed and encouraged instead of being bullied into staying quiet out of fear of peoples reactions.
If Piers wants those with mental illnesses to ‘man up’ he must be happy as suicide is the biggest killer of men aged 20-49 and more than 6,000 people a year are taking their own lives in the UK and Ireland. And his unnecessarily harmful words are contributing to statistics like these:
- One in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives.
- Around one in ten children experience mental health problems.
- Depression affects around one in 12 of the whole population.
- Rates of self-harm in the UK are the highest in Europe at 400 per 100,000.
- 450 million people world-wide have a mental health problem.
According to the mentalhealth.org, people with mental health problems say that the social stigma attached to mental ill health and the discrimination they experience can make their difficulties worse and make it harder to recover. Living with mental health issues is hard enough as it is and those with them should only be focusing on a full recovery not what people think about them.
Thankfully things are improving and a national conversation has been created on mental health. More people than ever are speaking out about mental health and demanding change. As I am quite active on social media I have noticed a recent trend of people supporting those with mental health and encouraging people to talk. This has been brought to the governments attention. In 2010 The Equality Act made it illegal to discriminate directly or indirectly against people with mental health problems in public services and functions, access to premises, work, education, associations and transport. With a new government set to be formed next month the Conservatives have pledged 10,000 more NHS mental health staff by 2020 and to tackle discrimination against those with mental health problems. And The Labour Party have promised extra funding for child and adolescent mental health services and support for counselling in every school.
The report for the Department of Health (DoH) concludes that more people regard mental illnesses as an illness “like any other” than 15 years ago and that far fewer assume people with a mental illness are dangerous. The research found that almost three quarters of people (73%) felt that people with mental health problems had the same right to employment as the wider population – up 7% on last year (The Guardian).
According to an article by mind.org.uk a national survey was conducted and the data shows that acceptance of people with mental health problems taking public office and being given responsibility has grown, and attitudes towards integrating people into the community have generally improved since 1994. In 2009, and for the first time in England, a range of questions relating to behavioural intentions were added to the survey and again, there has been a clear improvement. Results show significant increases in the proportion of people who say they would be: willing to continue a relationship with a friend with a mental health problem (4% increase); willing to work with someone with a mental health problem (6% increase); and willing to live nearby someone with a mental health problem (5% increase). These increases were particularly significant in the last year (2011 to 2012). Overall, according to the Institute of Psychiatry analysis of this data, there was a 1.3% improvement in attitudes of the general public between 2011 and 2012. Intended behaviour also improved by 1.6% in the same year.
However, the report from the Guardian also found that attitudes on some aspects of mental health remain negative. According to the report almost a third of 16-to 34-year-olds believe it is easy to distinguish people with a mental illness from “normal people” while 11% of the population confess to not wanting to live next door to a person they knew had a diagnosis.
Other concerning results show that over half of people said they would feel uncomfortable talking to an employer about their mental health and this has risen from 50% in 2010 to 55% in 2012. Similarly, whilst the majority (64%) of people say they would feel comfortable talking to a friend or family member, the proportion saying they would be uncomfortable increased from 22% in 2011 to 27% in 2012. The report suggests that there may be ‘a greater anxiety about discussing mental health problems with friends and family, and with employers.
Mental health is real and it’s effects can be damaging, so let’s let people know it’s okay to talk!
It is good to see discussion and support of mental health in the mainstream, and I hope this is just the beginning of a bigger discussion and growing awareness. According to the Guardian nearly nine out of ten people with mental health problems have been affected by stigma and discrimination. We need to work together to de-stigmatise mental health. As this article displays there has been a recent improvement in trying to de-stigmatise mental health but there is still plenty of work to be done. So be less like that evil w**ker Piers Morgan and be more like those Tottenham supporters.
Sites of interest: