Thursday, 26 February 2015

163. Mental Health Stigma in Students ft. The Priory

Mental Health, and my relationship with it, is something that I've discussed on the blog before and I got a wonderful response from you, my readers; some of whom had been through similar things and could empathise and relate to what I'd written. It was a lovely feeling to know that the post had made at least one person feel better, or less alone and ostracized.

I was recently contacted by The Priory, regarding a new campaign they are running to raise awareness of mental health conditions in students. As this is a subject so close to home for me, I really wanted to share some of their information and resources with you. 

According to a new study, over 60% of students have struggled to believe when a friend or acquaintance has told them they're suffering from a mental health condition. It's no secret that many people struggle to believe in mental health problems; as they're easy to hide, they often affect the people you would least expect, and they are mental and emotional, compared to a physical issue which you would be able to see.

Further research also found that a quarter of students feel uncomfortable when talking to their peers about mental health, and that a shocking 50% of them have received negative backlash as a result of speaking out about mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Although I'm not a student, I am still within the student age range and many of my friends are currently studying; I felt exactly the same about discussing my anxiety and only opened up to a few close friends before I decided to share my story on here, mainly for the fear (as echoed in the above statistics) that people would not believe me, or would think I was exaggerating. It's awful that this stigma is still attached to mental health. 

Dr Ian Drever, Consultant Psychiatrist at the Priory Hospital Woking explained:
“Going to university is a time of real life change for young people, what with them leaving home, having very different looking days and a whole set of new stresses and social surroundings. Whenever change happens in people’s lives it’s a sort of pinch point when anxiety or indeed any form of mental illness, is more likely to arise. If students are also being subjected to isolation and stigma, this can heighten illness and make it more likely to arise in the first place.”

He recommended that: “Students need to keep an eye out for the signs they may be developing a mental health condition, including problems sleeping, concentrating, and being sociable. Although it’s easier said than done I think it’s important that students share how they feel with a close friend or a healthcare professional. They need to acknowledge to themselves that they are not well, or not happy, and that it’s time to get help.”

University, college and school are all environments that can easily become stressful and associated with negative feelings, so it's easy to understand why students are so prone to mental health issues. My main advice would be the same as The Priory's: speak to someone. Whether it's a friend, a teacher, a family member or a healthcare professional - it helps just to get it out in the open and lift that weight from your shoulders. 

Rather than letting depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders, agoraphobia, anger issues or any other mental health problem affect your quality of life please, please do something about it.

The Priory have rehabilitation centres and specialist consultants nationwide - you can view their website here

*** I received no reimbursement in any shape or form, financial or otherwise, for this blog post. Diagrams are taken from this source, and the statistics were provided for me by The Priory ***

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