Today, I wanted to bring up an issue that’s been playing on my mind quite a lot these past few weeks. I frequently see tweets and Facebook statuses etc urging people to ‘speak out’ about their struggles and dark thoughts. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate for being open about your negative thoughts/emotions and speaking out about them, but I’m not quite sure that’s enough. The truth of the matter is that people ARE speaking out; we’re just not listening.
How many times have you told someone you’re feeling low just for them to reply ‘I hope you feel better soon!’. Or vice versa, how many times have you been the one to hope someone feels better soon? This is fine for someone who is having a low day every now and then just like everyone else, but it’s not enough for someone with a mental illness. These people need professional help, as well as love and support from their family and friends, in order to recover and get well again.
That isn’t to say you’re a bad person or unhelpful if you’ve been the person to respond ‘I hope you feel better soon’ to a struggling friend/family member. You’re a great person for being there for them and I’m sure they appreciate it more than you could ever imagine, but you’re not a professional. You cannot help a mentally unwell person on your own, and you shouldn’t be expected to. At the end of the day, wishing someone with the flu or a broken leg to ‘feel better soon’ is a lovely thing to say and I’m sure they appreciate it, but it’s not going to fix their broken leg – medical help will.
The responsibility for mentally unwell people lies with mental health service. Whilst it’s incredibly important to check up on your friends and family, you’re not to blame if a sufferer is failed by the mental health service. It happens all too often and ‘I wish they’d just spoken out!’ is becoming a little repetitive and misinformative.
People are speaking out, but mental health services aren’t able to help them because there isn’t enough funding. There is a mental health epidemic in 2019 and the government simply doesn’t care. Just let that sink in.