Ambassador Series: Accessing Support
World Mental Health Day’s theme for 2020 was ‘Greater Access for All’. Our Young Ambassadors have written blogs to explore challenges of reaching out for help as a young person. We’re adding to this series with a blog about how family opinions may stop you from feeling like you get seek help.
Family Opinions on Mental Health
You might be reluctant to talk about how you are feeling with your family, especially if they believe some of the common misconceptions about mental health. For example, they might think:
- That there is no such thing as mental illness
- People seeking mental health treatment are “mad” or “insane”
- You should be able to take the pressure of life and school
- Such problems are invalid
- Claiming to have mental health issues is weak or attention seeking
Although, these days, mental health is being more addressed than it was in the past, it is important to realise that some family members might not have the same awareness.
Whilst a lot of misunderstandings about mental illness go as far as denying its existence, some family or cultures do acknowledge it, but are misinformed on other aspects, such as treatment. For example, they might acknowledge mental health issues exist, however they might not believe in counselling or therapy. They may feel that, like physical health, they should be treated with medicines and if there is no medicine for a condition, there is no point in seeking help for it. These views minimise the seriousness of mental illness and the impact that it can have on your everyday life. It also fails to recognise that each mental health condition is its own massive spectrum- medicine may not be right for everyone.
You may think that this stigma is more commonly faced by people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. However, young people from all sorts of backgrounds face this kind of ignorance and fear losing the support of close family members.
What You Can Do
If you are facing this issue, or know someone who is, there are ways to get through it:
- Try to explain mental health and why it is just as important as physical health. Ask why they hold the opinions that they have, as well as what they are, and you could start your explanation from there. You can use information from the DMYH website to help. Young Minds also has a great parent helpline and online chat that your parents or carers can contact if they want to find out more about mental health and how to help: https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/for-parents/parents-helpline/
- Regardless of what viewpoint your family holds, try to be honest with yourself. If you are struggling with mental health and feel like your family won’t listen to you, talk to your friends, a professional, or anyone you feel comfortable with. Only you know what is truly best for you.
- Get help. Dorset Mind Your Head offers lots of different support services such as counselling, support groups, and check-ins. Have a look on the website and find a service that is right for you.
Thanks to our Young Ambassador Nabila, for writing this inspiring blog.
Check back for more in this series from our Young Ambassadors soon.