We all have mental health, but when mental health turns into an illness the stigma is still ever present. Ahead of Time to Talk Day, discover why opening up is nothing to be ashamed of.
Every year, Time to Talk Day campaigns on how we think, act and talk about mental health.
Unfortunately, for one in four people in the UK who experience a mental health condition each year, the taboo still stands.
Mark Dale, knows first-hand the stigma that surrounds mental illness and the importance of speaking openly, when the time is right for you.
After losing his mother and father over a close number of years at a young age, Mark experienced the emotions related to grief and depression. For Mark, it wasn’t long before his feelings of depression escalated.
Living with extreme highs, lows and lucidity, Mark was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and psychosis.
“The rest is history, I suppose,” says Mark. “I’m still living with my Mexican wave – I do this because on the football pitch when you do the wave you go up and down, and that’s what I’m like sometimes.”
The stigma surrounding mental illness can impact work, education and relationships. “What brought it all very close to home was my old friend from way back in primary school,” continues Mark.
After Mark’s friend visited him in hospital, Mark assumed everything was fine with their friendship, however, the pair have not spoken since.
This stigma can have a detrimental impact – even on friendships – but making a change in how we see and perceive mental health and illness all comes down to opening up.
Mark emphasises: “There is a big misunderstanding around mental health. Even though I do have a diagnosis and I take medication, and sometimes I have good days or bad days: the misunderstanding is that I’ve not changed. I’ve not grown another head. You don’t change, you just become unwell.
“If we started to talk, then people would actually have a better understanding of mental health,” enthuses Mark.
“Cancer was once a taboo – people used to be unable to talk about ‘the C word’, and now there are adverts and it has become normalised.
“Really, we should start talking as openly about mental health issues; when you start talking it can become an everyday conversation.”
Time to Talk Day will take place on Thursday 6 February 2020
During Time to Talk Day, the onus is on reaching out to show that you are there for your loved ones, colleagues and others who may be struggling to talk about their emotions.
No-one should feel that they have nobody to turn to, and Time to Talk Day – from charity
Mark adds: “Everyone has mental health, just like physical health. The only problem that arises is when mental health becomes an illness. One of my big wishes for Time to Talk Day is for people to embrace mental illness – it can be an unpalatable subject to talk about, but Time to Talk Day can be so much fun, too.
“The great thing about Time to Talk Day is that if you can talk about a serious subject and put a new twist on it, then it can open up and people can have fun and share that message and people will start to open up and talk,” enthuses Mark.
For anyone experiencing a mental health condition, or supporting a loved one, Mark fervently advises: “Don’t be frightened and don’t be ashamed. I guarantee that it will be something well worth taking part in because it opens up debate, and you’ll feel better for it.”