Ignorance isn't bliss for those on the other end of it

So good news, I have a new job! I am now a Workplace Wellbeing Coordinator - ooo fancy. I'm basically working with my place of work to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of the workforce. As a result of this, I have been to quite a few meetings in my first week and have had the pleasure (?) of hearing some people's thoughts on mental health conditions, and what these have made me realise is that we still have a massive way to go.

Remember when one of the newspapers said a different food gave you cancer each week, and we'd stop eating it, realise there wasn't really a lot of evidence and then went back to normal? Well I think the same thing is happening with mental health illnesses. It seems at the minute that every other week there's a new cause of mental illness, and as soon as someone has seen that one headline, there's no changing their mind. And these people who are not open to other opinions and reasons can be the start of a stigma; which is scary.

First things first (I'm the realest) (sorry), there is no one cause of a mental health condition. Mental illness is different for everyone anyway, there are different causes of schizophrenia to anxiety to bulimia, so therefore there can't possibly be one cause for all mental health problems. Even two people having the same illness doesn't necessarily mean they have the same cause, mental illness does not have a one-size-fits-all policy. Someone else could have had my exact life and not become mentally ill, so again, this must mean that there can't be one single cause of all mental illnesses and anyone who thinks this is just being ignorant. 

If you just search 'causes of mental illness', so many stories come up - video games, GCSEs, social media, gut health, low incomes, cat poo (?!), but even a correlation doesn't equal a cause. Also, have look at where these headlines come from - anyone can say they're a mental health expert, or a psychologist, or a nutritionist; and look at the company publishing it: are they a mental health profession? The NHS? Or some random website that doesn't seem to have any evidence? So many people just look at the headline and run with it, even when the headline says 'X MAY cause mental illness'. We know anyway that there's so much #FakeNews around, especially online, but some people just tend to not see that, and take whatever they're told as fact. This is dangerous. When people run with these statements, that's how stigmas start. For example, if you were told "low income families are more likely to develop mental illnesses", that will immediately put a stigma on all low-income families, and even then take validity away from those who would not consider themselves to be low income because then you get the "but you've got a good life, what have you got to be depressed about?!". It's scary really, I had to sit and listen to someone the other day saying "well all these school girls that have eating disorders are because they're starving their brains of good bacteria". My god, I really had to bite my tongue. The problem in the brain comes long before people actually act on it, and the fact she used "all these school girls" as if eating disorders aren't a problem for adults, or men or anyone other than them made me so angry. 

When discussing such sensitive topics like mental illness and mental health, we need to be so careful about generalising people and put everyone in the same box. Being ignorant and believing anything you're told can be dangerous. If you're unsure about a topic, research it, ask people who have more knowledge and even lived experience - I've written a post about asking someone about their mental health. But whatever you do, please be careful. I know people have their own opinions, and certain beliefs about topics, but even if you consider yourself an expert in causes of mental of health, or treatments and therapy, it doesn't automatically mean you can understand every person's experience of their own mental health. So be just be careful and sensitive, and don't act like the expert because you've read one article on the Daily Mail.

And as always, hit me up on the socials if you want to ask me anything!

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