The vicious circle of mental health problems

Thursday 11 December 2014

After the latest mental health awareness day, and having some experience in the matter myself, I decided to devote my first blog post for Young Women's Trust to mental health.

Chloe MageeIt is important to stress at this point that there is no effective “one size fits all” way to describe mental health, in particular mental illness, in the sense that suffering with mental health issues may be completely different for every individual suffering. Mental health issues can refer to a number of conditions and illnesses, to mention a few:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bi-Polar
  • Eating disorders
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

According to The Office for National Statistics, 1 in 6 people experience mental disorder at some point throughout their lives (this is increased to 1 in 4 for women). It is widely accepted that factors such as being in low-paid employment, being unemployed, being in poor housing, and of a low social class all contribute to mental illness, thus showing why young women who are NEET (not in education, employment or training) are particularly at risk. 

It’s hard to explain how you are feeling to someone when you can’t physically show them where you are hurting or even know why you are in pain. Once you’re in the cycle it begins to be the norm, and it can be so easy to just give up all hope of ever feeling better.

Trips to the doctor (assuming you can get an appointment) can be quite uncomfortable and very short. In my experience the best a doctor can do is refer you to a counsellor or a therapist, but usually offer medication alongside these. These methods aren’t necessarily for everyone - I found the best methods for me are self-help websites and books, but it is all down to personal preference. 

So when it comes to getting a job, it is easy to understand how much more difficult it must feel to someone suffering with mental health issues. How are you supposed to explain to a prospective employer that you have an illness? Will they treat you differently? What if it stops you getting a job all together? Will it affect your ability to do your job? Often, it seems to be a situation of: “I’m poorly (partly) because I can’t get a job/a better paid job- but can’t/daren’t get a job because I’m poorly."

It is a vicious circle to be in. If you are suffering with mental health problems, please be assured you are definitely not alone and there IS help for you. Likewise if you know someone suffering, be patient, be kind, and be a friend.