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Mental heath stigma stops people taking time off

Mental health is still taboo when it comes to taking time out, a survey by Time to Change has revealed.

A survey conducted by mental health campaign, Time to Change, revealed that nearly half of the 4,700 participants (44%) have felt the need to take time off work, school, or university due to a mental health problem during the pandemic.

Worryingly, only 17% actually did so. When respondents were asked why they did not take time off 27% said they were too embarrassed, 25% said they worried they would be judged and 24% said they thought it would risk their future prospects, for instance losing their job.

Emma Hurrell, 18, from Hertfordshire, has experienced anxiety throughout the pandemic, which has impacted her studies.

‘When the first lockdown started, my A-Levels moved online.

‘Studying from home was isolating, and it was harder to distract myself from difficult thoughts.

‘I’d had suicidal thoughts and self-harmed before, but it worsened due to the anxiety I was experiencing.

‘Later that month I ended up in A&E, and that’s when I was referred to a therapist. I decided to take a break from education until the new academic year to concentrate on my mental health, but I was worried about doing it, I feared I’d be judged.

‘In September I started a new college course. It’s been difficult at times, and I’ve thought about taking more time off for my mental health, but I’m really worried that if I do it will impact my future prospects.

‘I don’t want universities to see I’ve had even more time off because of my mental health and judge me for it.’

Further results from the survey showed that, of those people who struggled with their mental health during the pandemic, a simple message of support from a colleague, friend or family member made all the difference.

More than two in five (42%) said someone reaching out made them feel like they weren’t alone, 32% they felt comforted because someone was listening and 28% said it made them feel that they could seek help in the future.

Jo Loughran, director of Time to Change, said: ‘We know that attitudes towards those of us with mental health problems have improved in recent years and it’s important that we don’t let that slide.

‘The last year has been hard and it’s perhaps made more people realise that we can all struggle with our mental health at times. Let’s take this opportunity to ensure that we all feel comfortable talking about it, too.

‘It’s easy to think we haven’t got the power to make a change. But lots of ‘small’ conversations can add up to a big difference in tackling the stigma and discrimination too many people still experience because of their mental health.’

Photo Credit – Pixbay

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