With the Christmas period behind us many can be left feeling overwhelmed, stressed and generally down. What most see as a festive period of joy and excitement many can struggle with during this time, whether that be due to feeling isolated, depressed, having an eating disorder or any other mental health concern. People need to know it's okay to reach out for help, talking to a friend, parent, co-worker, teacher or GP.  

There is still so much stigma that surrounds mental health. For example, if you told someone you have a physical illness you would be met with concern and compassion but the same cannot be said when speaking out about mental health. Often people view someone speaking out as ‘the boy who cried wolf’, just doing it for attention. People get labelled as a ‘pick me’; labels like this can be dangerous as it can make people feel that they can't or shouldn't speak out as they won't be met with the empathy and assistance that they seek.  

Shame culture also still plays a massive role in people choosing not to speak out and is prevalent within, but not exclusive to the male population. Men are often met with the idea of ‘boys don't cry’, which causes many men to not speak out as they don’t want to appear ‘weak’ or ‘feeble’. Men and young boys need to know that it is okay to speak out and there is nothing shameful in admitting that you’re struggling. Shame culture also affects women; for example, a woman speaking out about poor mental health may be dismissed as being hysterical or hormonal and not taken seriously. This would stop some women from speaking out as they may fear they will not be believed. Women should be heard too and not just dismissed and treated unequally.  

Regardless of gender, race or sexuality people should feel comfortable and able to speak out if they are struggling with their mental health. If you or someone you know needs help remember that you are not alone and that there are people out there who will listen.