It's 2018 and the room still goes quiet when you talk about your anxiety or the fact that you've been feeling quite low lately, there's still those looks, those whispers and the awkward tension. It's Time To Talk, it's time to break the stigma surrounding mental health.

Around 1 in 4 people will experience mental health problems this year and let's be honest, the mental health problem is bad enough without the extra fear of being judged or feeling as though you have to hide your problems. So many people still feel unable to take a day off of work due to having a bad mental health day as they feel as though it won't be treated seriously as say, a sickness bug or a migraine. Something that impacts on an individual's life on a day to day basis, often consuming their thoughts and changing their perception of the world isn't seen as serious enough? It sounds ridiculous right, you'd assume by now that people would understand the importance of being aware of mental health but apparently, that hasn't happened yet. 

I feel as though one of the first things that has to be done when tackling the stigma surrounding talking about mental health is to break down the stereotypes. To this day, people still possess very close minded views of what having a mental illness is really like and this can deeply impact someone and their ability to speak out about their problems. For example, if somebody who is struggling with OCD overhears a work colleague or family member making jokes about OCD or saying the stereotypical comments of "oh it's just washing your hands repeatedly", do you really think that's going to help the individual speak out about what they are going through? Of course it won't. People need to be more aware of what they are saying and the impact that it can have on other people. It also definitely doesn't help that I'm still seeing fashion accessories floating around the internet with logos such as "anxiety"... such a fashion accessory, right. I'm sure that people wouldn't be so keen on getting these items if they knew what anxiety was really like because yknow, it's not just being a little bit nervous when having to do a class presentation, it is so, so much more than that. 

I also think it's important to clarify that some people may not be comfortable with talking about their mental health and that's also ok. This is mainly about giving people a comfortable environment where they feel as though they can talk about their mental health freely if they wish to do so. 

As well as this, I feel as though despite there being an increased awareness of more known disorders such as anxiety and depression in recent years, people are still fairly uneducated on other mental health problems such as personality disorders. With different disorders comes different symptoms and different ways of coping. Please can we not generalise all different types of mental health problems into one clump because that's not going to help anyone. 

Just having a conversation with someone and asking how they are can have such a powerful effect. I hope that by next year's Time To Talk day, there will be so much more improvement in having conversations about mental health. I remember when I first started writing about mental health quite a few years ago now, back before I had even started this blog and the backlash I had received was unbelievable. I had been called all sorts of names such as "attention seeker" but now, I receive many more positive comments which shows me that there has been progress but I just hope that one day, talking about a panic attack won't be thought of any less than a broken bone. 

Let's just break down this stigma.