Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Going Mental

Apparently, yesterday was World Mental Health Day.  I say 'apparently', because nobody ever tells me about these things at the time.  I mean, World Talk Like a Pirate Day recently passed me by - again.  Every year, for some reason, people fail to remind me of the latter international event, thereby depriving me of a legitimate opportunity to spend an entire day talking like Robert Newton, (look him up kids).  Anyway, I was left pondering exactly what World Mental Health Day might entail, activity wise.  After all, if Talk Like a Pirate Day involves people, well, talking like pirates then, by logical extension, shouldn't World Mental Health Day involve people going around behaving as if they are suffering from a mental illness?  Like in that movie, the title of which eludes me - you know the one, it wade according to the Dogme 95 conventions - in which a group of people pretend to be mentally handicapped, but aren't.  You can easily legitimise it as being a way for those without mental illnesses to gain an insight into what it is like to suffer from one.

Of course, in order to head off the middle class hand wringers who will try to get offended on behalf of mental illness sufferers, I should point out that, as I have suffered from clinical depression, I am one of those poor people you want to patronise.  So, please, don't get offended on my behalf because of something I've written.  Anyway, to return to the point, I fear that if simulating mental health problems was the purpose of World Mental Health Day, then what we'd end up with is hordes of idiots wandering around pretending to be Norman Bates, Hannibal Lecter or just some random psychopath waving a meat cleaver.  Sadly, this is the image of mental illness which is all too often propagated by the media in the UK and which many people take to be the reality of the situation.   And if it isn't psychopaths and serial killers, then the other image of the mentally ill perpetrated in popular culture is that of sad losers perpetually on the verge of suicide.  With a bit of self-harming thrown in for good measure.  The fact is that most mental health problems, such as depression, are far less spectacular and generally go unnoticed by the rest of the world.  Shockingly, people with mental heath problems, by and large, look and behave, outwardly, at least, just like everyone else.



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