[Written By: Kritika Narula]
[Photographer: Erifili Gounari]
The narrative on mental health has strengthened over the years. Yet, a very small proportion of the people seek help. The reasons vary. The identification of mental health issues is hard because of their conspicuous absence from the mainstream medical narrative. Even if one identifies the issue, it is difficult to muster enough courage to acknowledge it in entirety and reach out for help. What complicates matters is that these experiences are extremely personal and explaining what one is going through is a daunting task in itself. To add to this, there’s unfathomable stigma about accepting such illnesses and disorders because they are seen as a character flaw.
The TEDxUniversityofGlasgowSalon team hosted its second mini-conference of the year called All Kinds of Minds to celebrate the diversity of experiences and actions by these minds. The echo through the packed hall was clear: Being Strong is Killing Us, as the audience witnessed speakers share their experiences through their diagnosis, a clinical psychologist’s view on the way stigma hinders acknowledgement and recovery, interspersed with TED videos Don’t suffer from your depression in silence by Nikki Webber Allen and Oliver Sack’s What hallucination reveals about our minds.
Judith Stevenson, an ambassador for the TLC Foundation for Body Focused Repetitive Behaviours in the UK spoke about her story in What the pluck? Coming out proud with trichotillomania. Through her own experiences, she shared how the lack of awareness about such illnesses leads to the discomfort and that the only way out is through. She embodies what she preaches, and is educating people about trichotillomania to break this silence.
Elliot Porter, a Philosophy graduate and a PhD candidate, shared his own experience with cyclothymia, a long term mood disorder. His experience with the ups and downs of the disorder has been helped greatly by his own understanding of himself. The message is loud and clear: It helps to be a student of your own mind, for aiding recovery, if nothing else.
Professor Andrew Gumley, Professor of Psychological Therapy and a Clinical Psychologist brought his professional expertise to the conversation, talking about how the stigma hinders diagnosis, recovery and acceptance in psychosis.
The Q&A session saw discussions on the difference between empathy and sympathy, the inclusion of mental health activities in the educational curriculum. The conclusion of the event it is clear: looking at recovery should be seen as an ongoing process, among others.