Autumn 2009 editorial: New beginnings
Mark Brown on tackling the challenges presented by mental health difficulty
In one way or another, most of the articles in this issue of One in Four relate to new beginnings. Whether it’s freshening up your wardrobe, embarking on the great adventure that is university, going for a job, trying out a new medication or even, in the case of Time to Change and the New Horizons strategy, trying to bring a fresh way of viewing mental health difficulty into the public eye, all involve something new and revitalising.
The idea that once you have a diagnosis of a mental health difficulty your life is over is one of the most damaging myths that clings to people’s thoughts. Often people are scared to seek help for things that are troubling them for fear that a diagnosis will bring their hopes and aspirations to an end. As damaging is the belief that once ill, it is impossible for anything fresh or new to enter your life.
This is not true. Any mental health difficulty presents challenges, and some present more difficult challenges than others but what they all have in common is that with a bit of help, the right way of thinking about them, a bit of natural ingenuity and a lot of hope, it’s possible to stop these challenges bringing your life to a standstill.
Many mental health difficulties are best seen as disabilities. A disability, very simply, is something that presents you with additional challenges and limitations that other do not face. All disabilities share in common the fact that, with the right assistance and the right adjustments, it is possible to overcome the obstacles they present and achieve things that we want to achieve. Without glasses, many of us would find it difficult to see, for example. Mental heath difficulty is no different.
If we can think of the things that we want to happen in our lives, and learn about the things that might stand in our way in getting to them, then we can begin the process of achieving them. The key for all of us is to see where we might need help on that journey and make sure that we get it.
Watching us, watching them, watching us
This issue of One in Four sees the first of our media round table features, where we bring together people who experience mental health difficulties to discuss how it feels to watch, read or listen to pieces of media made about mental health difficulties. We have already come a long way in the ways that mental health difficulty is represented in the media, with better factual reporting, but there is still much distance to travel.
It is important that all of us celebrate accurate, positive representations of people with mental health difficulty and take time to challenge those portrayals that are less helpful. While large organisations and charities already do an excellent job of this on behalf of people with mental health difficulties, it is even more important that those of us w ho do experience mental health difficulty, and those of us who are close to those that do, make our voices heard. Ultimately, it is us that careless reporting and stereotypical images affect most.
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