Great Yarmouth man speaks out about mental health stigma as YMCA release new research

Daniel Mariner, at the YMCA in Great Yarmouth. Photo: YMCA

Daniel Mariner, at the YMCA in Great Yarmouth. Photo: YMCA - Credit: YMCA

'You get stick off everyone' - that was the message from a man who sought help from the YMCA, as the charity backed a new mental health campaign.

Daniel Mariner, who recently stayed at YMCA Norfolk at Great Yarmouth's Hall Quay, spoke out about the stigma he had experienced for suffering mental health issues as new research from the charity revealed the damaging effects of negative language and stereotypes.

It showed that psycho, retard and attention seeker were among the most commonly used words, as two thirds of young people who have seen or heard harmful words and negative stereotypes relating to mental health said it was simply part of everyday language.

Mr Mariner said: 'It's a terrible experience and not one person is experiencing the same thing. When I tried to reach out for help, there were quite a few hoops to jump through, which often stop people from receiving the help they need and adds to stigma and the pressures. Because of this people often continue to suffer in silence.'

The research, called More Than Words, was published as part of the YMCA and NHS #IAMWHOLE campaign, also showed that 44pc of those who have heard or seen negative stereotypes did so on a weekly basis, with young people coming across an average of 33 different words and terms.

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Researchers spoke to more than 2,000 11-24 year olds and found that even though nearly nine in ten (88pc) young people who have come across stereotypes and negative words think they should be challenged, less than half (48pc) have done so.

Around 60pc of young people said social media was where they most frequently saw negative words and stereotypes about mental health.

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The damaging impact of harmful language was evident as more than half (55pc) of young people who have been on the receiving end said it stopped them from talking about their difficulties.

Tim Sweeting, chief executive for YMCA Norfolk, said: 'Negative language surrounding mental health is so ingrained into our everyday language it makes it almost impossible to tackle stigma if we don't change the way we talk about people experiencing mental health difficulties.

'While everyone knows how damaging insults can be, it's the more subtle elements of how we talk about the issue that really discourages young people from speaking out.

'Most of us use words unintentionally, not realising the damaging consequences of our comments. We need to start challenging people on the way they talk and also challenge ourselves. This is why we support the #IAMWHOLE campaign to help everyone better understand mental health and tackle stigma one word at the time.'

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