Stigma poses a significant obstacle to tackling mental health, partly because it makes people reluctant to talk about their problems. Encouraging people to open up about their problems is now the focus of many high profile media campaigns. Many celebrities, including the UK royal family, are spearheading initiatives such as ‘#oktosay’ in social media to get people to talk about their mental health. In the next video, you’ll see the musician Stormzy talking about his mental health.
Activity 7: Talking about mental health
Watch the interview with Stormzy below and consider what effect it has on you. Does it make you feel more likely to talk about mental health?
As you watch, think too about the relationships between mental health and
- access to opportunities to talk
- support networks
- trying to appear strong and able to cope.
You may feel a certain degree of empathy for Stormzy who talks about his experiences of depression which were compounded by the pressures he felt to appear strong and able to cope with the new challenges that accompanied his musical career.
As you work through this course, you’ll learn more about how people can be supported to talk about their problems and therefore understand the issues better.
Talking about mental health can often be demanding because people may not have the words they need at their fingertips. One gets the sense that Stormzy has become more comfortable in sharing his experiences through his music and using his experiences to encourage others to talk.
As you saw earlier, language can be hurtful and affect a person’s sense of identity. Language plays a big part in shaping people’s experiences. Language is also shaped by certain cultural perspectives. As a result, what different people mean by the words they use may differ, as Johnstone, a clinical psychologist, argued:
How quiet do you have to be before you can be called withdrawn? How angry is aggressive? How sudden is impulsive? How unusual is delusional? How excited is manic? How miserable is depressed? The answers to all these questions are to be found not in some special measuring skill imparted during psychiatric training, but in the psychiatrists’ and lay people’s shared beliefs about how ‘normal’ people should behave.
This takes you to a short introduction to mental health policy.