Reader letter - Mental health stigma has to change

Mental Health. Pictured: A woman is consoled by her friend. Time to change/Newscast Online

Mental Health. Pictured: A woman is consoled by her friend. Time to change/Newscast Online - Credit: Time to change/Newscast Online

A Norfolk man has written of his experience with mental ill health. Name and address supplied.

As I write this I am sitting in my room as a patient in a psychiatric hospital, however, I'm not in a straight jacket or a padded cell and neither to my knowledge have I had a lobotomy.

The connotations of a hospital dedicated to mental illness led my scepticism and great fear of my environment as I first stepped through the doors.

The psychiatric unit of a hospital will never fill an 18-year-old with delight and I really shouldn't hope it does. Though, I have been here for two-and-a-half weeks and have struggled to tell any of my closest friends my situation and I'm still yet to tell most of them.

It is very difficult to describe the feeling of great depression and anxiety that leads to an attempted suicide and it is not taken lightly in any scenario.

The fundamental outline is that I am in hospital due to serious illness and whether it be physical or mental there is no reason to feel any embarrassment but, I do. I am certainly not the only person to feel ashamed and therefore isolated due to my mental illness. Society has a lot of catching up to do in terms of the stigma of mental health.

I was included in this bracket all but six months ago; I was unaware of my misunderstanding of depression and suicide until I was thrown into the situation and I am still fighting to understand mental illness.

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The phobia of the hospital environment was due to my fear of both other patients and of the nurses and staff. A great deal though, has changed in my outlook and attitude towards other people.

I have been humbled and admiring of the nurses and staff of the ward and hospital. I am eternally grateful for their care and attitude they have in no uncertain terms saved my life and they go day-to-day without the great recognition that they deserve.

As in regard to my fellow patients I have learnt never to judge and always be open minded.

This experience has taught me the importance of empathy and understanding of other people and the patients here are a true example of the joy and depth of humanity. Even in the darkest days of our lives we are able not just to coexist but to empathise, listen to and aid each other.

Mental illness should not be a taboo topic and I should not be embarrassed of my attempted suicide but yet I am. This shows a great injustice in society and gives me a reason to write this.

I was always sceptical of the true illness behind poor mental health, now I have depression and anxiety I am able to understand the day-to-day struggles of so many people who have no voice and have no network of support due to this stigma and this has to be changed.