A comment from De Montfort University Vice-Chancellor Dominic Shellard on mental health.
When we talk about ‘mental health’, we simply mean something that is part of our general health.
It is something that concerns us all. Keeping an eye on our wellbeing and offering support to our friends and family when they experience physical symptoms and setbacks, is natural and sensible. I do wonder though why there are so many of us still making a false and unhelpful distinction when it comes to mental health.
It seems particularly strange when so many of us are affected. The statistics say one in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point – but since that 25 per cent includes our partners, parents, fellow students, colleagues and others we care about, it is probably truer to say everyone is affected in some way.
So this is – for want of a better word – a common problem that we do not like talking about, or are too often unwilling to acknowledge as something that touches us. At its broadest extreme, that attitude is not merely sad but pernicious, and can harden into a form of discrimination and social stigma. When we suffer from mental health problems, such stigma and discrimination actively makes our situation worse and recovery longer and harder.
That is not our way. As you know, DMU is an inclusive community. It is one of our natural strengths. We counsel and we have a Mental Health Inclusion Team, which supports students in practical ways. DMU Thrive offers individualised help for students with mental health issues, to equip them for graduate-level employment. We are continuing to develop strategies that make the university a healthy environment of which everyone can be part.
It is by our being instinctive communicators and sharers, that we are in a great position to shift perceptions and influence attitudes around mental illness. And that is what Stamp Out Stigma is all about.
So yes, let us make sure we do really keep talking about mental health, let us really listen – and let us really make things better for everyone.