World Mental Health Day 2022: How to Raise Awareness for Invisible Illness
Today is World Mental Health Day 2022, an important day celebrated on 10th October every year.
This day raises awareness about mental health around the world and helps to provide support for those experiencing mental health issues.
Since 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) has organized a global campaign for the day, with this year’s day being ‘Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’.
This is especially relevant in the current climate, where more and more people within society are experiencing poor mental health because of the cost-of-living crisis within the UK.
Within this post, we will be discussing how to raise awareness for invisible illnesses this World Mental Health Day.
What Is An Invisible Illness?
An invisible illness is essentially any medical condition that isn’t easily visible to other people.
The symptoms are not externally seen by the rest of society whether its pain, fatigue, dizziness, or mental illness symptoms.
Whilst a mentally ill person is suffering internally, to observers whether it’s friends, family, colleagues or even doctors because they can’t physically see the symptoms, they’re said to be invisible because they can only be seen by the person suffering.
There are indications that a person is suffering from a mental health condition, but what is being felt on the inside cannot be ‘seen’ by others.
Due to this, individuals suffering from mental health conditions like depression or anxiety often face more judgement and criticism from others because from the outset they look completely fine when inside it’s a completely different story.
They may be labelled as lazy, moody, silly or any other dismissive judgements.
However, just because you can’t see an illness or see someone struggling, it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
To make matters worse, mental health fluctuates meaning moods go up and down in severity so one day, week, or even month will go well for the sufferer, and they will be able to work, socialise and function day to day.
In comparison, there’s also more challenging periods of time where day to day life is simply unbearable and the sufferer can no longer function.
Which can confuse those within their life as they can’t grasp why one day was good whilst another wasn’t.
To understand how to raise awareness and support those suffering from an invisible illness, carry on reading.
How To Raise Awareness & Support For Invisible Illness
A study by Mind found that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year.
So, it’s something that affects nearly everyone whether they have a diagnosed mental health condition or not, we all suffer with mental health issues from time to time.
Not to mention, there are so many other invisible illnesses that people cannot see like diabetes, endometriosis, lupus or thyroid disease to name a few.
People who suffer with these conditions may seem okay on the outside and experience challenges especially if they don’t feel listened to.
If you want to get involved and find out the ways you can help raise awareness and support for invisible illness this World Mental Health Day 2022, have a read of our tips below.
1. Talk To Those Around You
Our first recommendation for providing awareness and support for invisible illness is to talk to those within your life.
Communicate with those around you whether it’s friends, family or colleagues about how they are feeling, and take the time to listen to what they have to say.
You should be patient and sympathetic about what someone is telling you, even if you don’t fully understand what they’re feeling or experiencing. if you’re unsure about anything to do with their illness, ask questions if they’ll let you.
Try to check in regularly if you’re able to as emotions and situations can change, and a support network to open up to can do the world of good when you’re feeling down.
This will show that you genuinely care about this person and we’re sure they will appreciate your support and understanding.
Although, you shouldn’t get annoyed or frustrated if someone doesn’t want to open up to you about the way they are feeling, as this won’t make things any easier.
It may take time for someone to feel like they can trust you, or they may not want to discuss their emotions at all, that’s something we have to accept!
2. Open Up About Your Own Experiences
Not only is it important to talk to those around you about their feelings and struggles which are invisible to others, it’s also important for you to talk about your own experiences openly.
Speaking up about your own battles with mental health can spark important conversations and can help reduce the stigma associated with mental health.
Many people tend to “suffer in silence” because they don’t want to be a burden to others, or they believe that people won’t understand.
By speaking up about your own experiences it can break down the barriers regarding mental health and can inspire others to talk about their symptoms and emotions.
When people realise how common mental illness can be, they become less scared of it and it means we as a society can work on preventative mental health interventions!
3. Stay Educated
Another recommendation for raising awareness for invisible illness is to understand and teach others about the causes, symptoms, and treatments so that you can be better educated and be able to support those around you.
If you notice signs of a mental illness such as mood changes, changes in sleeping and eating patterns or anti-social behaviour, try to talk to them about how they’re feeling and suggest they speak to a professional.
By learning the possible symptoms of various mental health problems and health conditions, you can stay educated and educate others.
It’s equally important to educate others on the importance of practicing self-care and ways to improve your mental health too.
There will be helpful resources and discussions regarding mental health available on-campus and on your university’s website!
4. Practice Kindness
A further way to get involved and raise awareness for mental health and invisible illnesses is to practice kindness.
As we mentioned earlier, it’s so important to be careful with your choice of words and judgement when it comes to invisible illnesses, as it can invalidate a person’s feelings if they’re told things like “You look fine” or “You’re just being lazy”.
Not only should you think about what you say, but you should also speak up to others who are saying harmful things, even if it’s played off as ‘humour’.
Acts of kindness can help those who are suffering, whether it’s offering to do someone’s shopping or offering to go to a doctor’s appointment with them.
Don’t be afraid of offering kind words and a space to talk, whether it’s over the phone, messaging online or face to face.
Even small things can make a big difference to someone who is struggling and being supportive rather than judgemental is so important for people’s mental health!
5. Spread Awareness Online
Another great way to spread mental health awareness is to use social media.
From sharing self-care tips to encouraging others to speak up to being an example to others to inspiring lifestyle changes to strengthening relationships.
There’s never a better time than World Mental Health Day to spend time researching and sharing resources on mental health such as on your Instagram story or Twitter feed.
When you’ve learnt about an issue, sharing your new knowledge will spread awareness whether it’s sharing facts, statistics, or helpful tips.
You can also discuss the things you’ve learned with friends or family to encourage them to do their own research on important topics, and to distinguish myths about certain things!
Using online resources can also spread awareness for those who are suffering from an invisible illness, as they can look up information, symptoms and treatment options.
Some people find researching their issues helpful in improving their wellbeing.
We can all play our part in increasing awareness about mental health and invisible illnesses, not just on World Mental Health Day 2022 but every day.
This important celebration ensures that mental health as an issue is highlighted and spoken about, because it’s just as important as physical health, even if it cannot be seen. Mental health care needs to be a global priority!
Don’t forget to wear a green ribbon if you can, which is the international symbol of mental health awareness.
Please help spread awareness this World Mental Health Day 2022, to find out more about the significance of this day head to the Mental Health Foundation website.
If you’re struggling with your mental health or an invisible illness, please reach out your support network whether it’s friends or family, or people at university, or professional support.
Mind offers some helpful resources and services for dealing with mental health issues or helping those around you.
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