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  • Writer's pictureJean Queen

What is Mental Health Stigma ?

Mental Health and stigma.

Earlier this year I suffered from a period of anxiety, partly linked to the pandemic and due to burn out from working within the NHS. I left my job took some time to care for myself and was able to recover. As a therapist I obviously have experience of treating a variety of mental health difficulties including depression and anxiety in others. One day I was out with my family and I was practising some breathing techniques to help me feel more mindful and to relax . My daughter asked me what I was doing. I explained that it helps when I’m feeling anxious and my daughter replied “You can’t be anxious because you are a therapist”.

Now before I continue I would like to point out that I feel my children have been raised to be emotionally aware and have a good age appropriate understanding about mental health in themselves and others, of which I am proud.

So this was really interesting for me and I asked her “Can a Dr who works in Cancer treatment still get cancer?”

This is the stigma around mental health. I feel it should be treated with the same seriousness as a physical health problem.

In Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Adolescents (IPT-A) we view depression as an illness. I explain this to the young people I have helped over many years. I may ask them what happens if you break your leg? You may go for an x-ray, have physio and so on. Well it’s the same for depression. There are treatment’s which have been shown to have positive effects on relieving symptoms of depression. IPT-A is one of these.

I talk about what causes depression and that it is not their fault. I find this to be a really helpful process where they can let go some of the self- blame. Some find it easier to have discussions with people who support them. This often kicks starts the recovery process.

So why do we find it easier to seek support for our physical health. Why do we find it easy to talk about a broken leg and shy away from telling a friend about how we are feeling?

Lets all try talk more talk about mental health, not only our own but also to ask others how they are feeling. We don’t always have to have answers to fix everything but we can start by listening and just being there.

I hope this has helped .

For more information about IPT-A check out my website. I am an Independent IPT-A Accredited Practitioner and I offer online therapy sessions. Feel free to get in touch if you would like more information.

Please note @therapyforteens is not a crisis service.

If you need someone to talk right now please call

Samaritans 116 123

Childline 0800 1111

Young Minds If you need urgent help text YM to 85258

If you feel like you might attempt suicide, or may have seriously harmed yourself, you need to seek urgent medical help.

Please: Contact your GP, NHS 111 or A and E

If you can't do this by yourself, ask someone to help you.

Mental health emergencies are serious. You're not wasting anyone's time.

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