Monday, 8 February 2016

How Differently We Treat Mental Illness vs Physical Illness

I've been asked to speak at a Mindful Employer conference in March on the subject of "What employers should do if they suspect that one of their employees has a mental health problem".  The idea being that I'd use my hands on experience gained by supporting and training hundreds of people who have been struggling at work due to stress, anxiety or depression to deliver a best practice for Line Managers advice talk.  

Although it was pretty clear in my head what I wanted to include in this best practice presentation, there was one thing that kept cropping up again and again in my thoughts...and that differently we treat mental illness compared to how we treat physical illness.

We all have mental health just like we all have physical health.  Both need looking after and both change.  We can become mentally unwell just as we can become physically unwell.  Yet there seems to be a massive difference in the way we treat these two different sides of our health.  To me, among some people, there still seems to be a misunderstanding that being mentally unwell is a sign of weakness, unnatural, abnormal, giving in and not trying hard enough to get over it.  How wrong?  Would we say the same thing if someone fell over and broke their arm or caught the flu or had an ear infection?  I don't think so.

"Many people still don't get that being diagnosed with a mental illness isn't something that's in their control -- just like having the flu, or food poisoning, or cancer isn't in their control."  
(Lindsay Holmes - Huffington Post)

The first two links below showcase some brilliant illustrations which highlight the different way people treat a physical illness compared with a mental illness far better than I could ever explain, so I'll say no more and leave you to follow the links.

How People Treat Mental Illness vs How They Treat Physical Illness.
Have you tried herbal tea?

What If People Treated Phyical Illness Like Mental Illness?
Mental illness vs physical illness

Talking About Mental Health
Discover the small things

Finally, please do share this post so we can try and make mental health something we talk about as freely as physical health.

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