Mental health awareness week has just passed, and there is no better time than now to remember that one in four of us will suffer from a form of mental health each year.
Artefact met with Sophie Taylor, 22, who suffers from anxiety, to talk about her opinions on society’s idea of mental health, and how she is able to deal with her anxieties on a daily basis.
“Coming to terms with the fact I have a mental health issue, was hard; nobody likes the subject of mental health, or to talk about it,” Taylor explained. “Suffering with panic attacks on a daily basis was not by choice, and I don’t think people understand that, in a way it seems like a trend nowadays to have a bit of anxiety, some people think you can just wake up and decide that you are going to have panic and anxiety attacks, mine originally started at the beginning of my GCSE exams.”
National data reveals the issue of mental health in young people is a growing concern and exam stress is one of the main causes of the increase in young people.
“We are taught that exams are the be all and end all, if we do not pass these exams it will affect our future, which is a very daunting thing to think of as a15-year-old sitting your exams.”
In its annual review last year, the charity Childline said that exam stress entered the top ten most common issues raised for the first time, which has risen by 200 per cent compared to the statistics in 2013. Many young people told the charity that the fear of failure and not wanting to disappoint their parents were the biggest factors to the stress caused; many had searched for coping mechanisms online where they sought refuge in self-harm.
“When I had first told my friends that I was receiving help to deal with my anxiety and depression, I felt as if I had told them something so bad, as if I had broken the law, their reaction was not one that I had expected – one of them had asked me if I was doing it for the attention because it was very popular on a few social media platforms. It’s almost glamorous to hate yourself and to stop yourself from achieving big things because you have anxiety in the way,” Taylor recalled.
The glamorisation of self-harm and suicide on social media has led to an incorrect viewpoint of how serious the effects of self-harm and suicide can be. Dannah Boyd, Jenny Ryan and Alex Leavitt produced research in The Journal of Law and Policy for Information Society, which looks at the psychological implications of pro-self-harm internet sites.
The articles go into depth about the most important points on the topics of self-harm, covering eating disorders and the internet communities that form around them. The articles claim that, “Disordered people often perform “rituals such as posting photographs, weigh-ins, feedback requests, group fasts and food reports help to prove the authenticity of one‘s pro-anorexic status as well as provide a sense of pride.”
Taylor explained: “Although now, with the help of counselling my anxiety has its grip, I cannot go into some situations still without having a panic or feeling anxious. There are many outlets where you can find the help, I found my help in a counselling company called mind.org, the company have been the one that has made me learn how to deal with my issues, and how I can openly address them – originally I had kept everything bottled in, but I cannot stress how big of weight is lifted once you talk to someone, if that be in the form of a counsellor, or with a friend or family member.”
If you feeling like you are going through a similar situation, the following websites may be able to help you:
Featured Image by Shattered Art66 via Flickr CC.