What key words, images or thoughts spring to mind when you hear the phrase ‘mental health issue’?
- depression, stigma, varied
- Pills, doctors, mental illnesses, isolation, struggle, therapy.
- Sympathy, People who need help and caring
- illness, depression
- Psychological e.g depression Physiological e.g. Parkinson’s disease
- depression unhappiness confusion anger
- restraining jacket, american psycho, depression
- Struggling, complications, taboo, misunderstanding, desperation
- crazy, ill, sick
- Insanity, asylum, lunatic
- depression, taboo subject, difficult to talk about
What would be your definition of a ‘mental health issue’?
- Any condition that inhibits or impedes upon a person’s mental well-being.
- Any psychological issue(s) which negatively impact an individual’s ability to function.
- Someone who has difficulty knowing who they are, or how to live their life normally like others
- problems mentally short term/long term
- A psychological issue with the overall health of a person
- Thoughts, feelings or urges that you don’t want to have but have no apparent control over.
- an issue to do with your brain, psychological rather than physical
- an inability to act within society to a certain degree of normality
- something which impacts negatively upon your life in any way which isn’t physical
Do you feel that there are stigmas or preconceptions surrounding mental health issues?
- Yes, most definitely. People are still embarrassed to talk about it even to medical professionals, and there is still a societal perception that because mental health problems aren’t tangible, it is often a sign of madness or laziness. People are not educated enough as a whole on the effects of mental health issues on the individual and those around that person.
- Yes, that they are over-diagnosed and labeled.
- yes, as most mental health issues cannot be seen, they are not as highly recognised as a physical body issue and therefore sometimes ignored or undervalued
- definitely, i feel people are less willing to talk about mental health as opposed to other illnesses
Have you ever experienced or witnessed any negative attitudes towards those with mental health issues?
- I’ve seen a few friends come forward about their illness been distanced by their friends because of this.
- People find it difficult to understand just how much mental health issues impact on day-to-day functioning and how detrimental they are to not only oneself but one’s relationships with others. Most of my negative experiences have been from people ostracising me and others when mental functioning is at its most impaired.
- Yes, usually by uneducated people, or people who have not been affected by them.
- I myself am sometimes cynical towards those claiming they have depression or ocd etc, believing many people want to put a name to a sense of anxiety or sadness they are feeling as a means to rationalise it. Maybe this is pure cynicism and that my negative attitude has a harmful effect on those with genuine mental health issues. In terms of others, I have not witnessed an adult bullying another for having a major mental health issues however I have observed people with learning difficulties such as Aspergers being picked on in lower school.
- not personally
- Yes, personally I have witnessed first-hand abuse of people with autism. My mam also worked at a mental health institute in the north east and had to leave the position due to the cruel treatment of the patients.
- yes, people suffering with depression or anxiety or ocd are often told to just ‘snap out of it’ or ‘get over it’
How do you think the media portrays those with mental health issues?
- In some ways negatively- draws attention to the fact that a person may have mental health issues in crime reporting. In other ways it completely ignores or does not represent mental health.
- There’s very little understanding. People with mental health issues are portrayed as “mad” or a drain on the country’s resources. The media should be promoting a more educational stance, but this seems to only be prevalent in left-wing media sources.
- Exploits some of them, i.e. with celebrities.
- Showing it as a very serious problem and illness however previously was a very taboo subject
- Sympathetically for the most part, but some cartoons or comedies play up to the stereotype of the victorian ‘lunatic’ for hyperbolic effect.
- Not always in a good light. Often does not explain the condition behind behaviour
- outcasts, weirdos, insane?
- It depends. I wouldn’t always say people with mental health issues are portrayed in the best manner.
- i don’t think the media take mental health issues as seriously as they should, you wouldn’t put on the front of a magazine if someone had a physical illness so why do they sensationalize mental health for entertainment eg ‘shes having a breakdown’
What methods would help people to gain understanding about others suffering from mental health issues?
- Better exposure to the true scale of mental illness.
- The internet is a great resource for educating people who have little understanding of mental health issues. There are many websites which allow people who have first-hand knowledge of mental health issues to share their experiences. Also, there should be schemes employed in secondary schools such as a representative for MIND, for example, holding talks to teenagers about mental health issues. Mental health issues begin developing in those susceptible during teen years, and if people can expand their knowledge at that age they may be in a greater position to combat and deal with any issues they themselves may have.
- Teaching from a young age to help people to understand, and cope with them if it becomes part of their life with a family member or friend.
- Talked about more and advertised more in hospitals/doctors. Posters/leaflets alongside other serious issues such as cancers etc to showcase the seriousness and importance.
- presentations to children at youngish ages (maybe lower secondary school).
- Better awareness Better training in health care professionals
- that documentary on channel four gave a really interesting insight to the lives of people suffering. though i can’t remember what it was called
- A broader spectrum of people initiating focus groups to come face to face with those affected from mental illness
- more awareness in the media. More availability of information
Through carrying out my survey, I intended on discovering the preconceptions of mental health issues which would help me to work out the content of my zine. I needed to know whether the average person my age really did have negative preconceptions or negative experiences of mental health issues. I discovered pretty quickly after setting up the survey that people do misunderstand this topic a lot, although there were some who had a clear grasp of the issue.
Most of the words that people associated with mental health issues were extremely negative. ‘Isolation’, ‘taboo’, ‘crazy’, ‘insanity’ and ‘lunatic’ are all negative words and words that those with mental health issues would most definitely not want to be associated with. This highlights to me that I need to try to help people to understand that not all people with mental health issues are ‘crazy’ and that they are a lot more common than most people think.
Something else I noticed was the recurring theme of words such as ‘stigma’, ‘taboo’, ‘misunderstanding’, ‘difficult to talk about’. This further encourages me to create something that could be a talking point and could spark discussion. Also, the use of the word ‘pills’ has caused me to discuss the use of medication.
The next question about the definition highlighted that people have extremely varied views of mental health issues. This has prompted me to include a definition and some examples of mental health issues in the zine. People also agreed strongly that there is a stigma surrounding the issue.
The main negative experiences that have happened for those who answered were to do with those who do not understand mental health issues, or have not experienced them, belittling the conditions. This is to do with a lack of understanding and empathy which is not necessarily the person’s fault; they simply have not been educated.
The response to the media question was very mixed, with some people claiming the media is beginning to change its ways and portray mental health issues in a more sympathetic light whereas others said that they felt that the portrayal is still negative.