Recently I have seen a post circulating on social media, which I believe is quite a dangerous message to spread, especially for people who suffer with their mental health.
When I saw this post on Facebook I reacted angrily to it through the platform. I was then confronted by the person who posted it. I explained why I thought it was a bad message to spread, and the person said that they hadn’t read the post in the same way I did. Once I explained my reasons for disliking the post, they understood, apologised and removed the post.
I am not going to include this post as I don’t want people to read it in the same way I did, but I’d like to highlight the importance of this conversation I had. If this person hadn’t messaged me, they would have never known my reasons for this reaction and therefore think I was either being rude, or overreacting. Instead I was able to explain my point, and they totally understood, but they had read it in a different way.
I am grateful for this person for reaching out, and in the end we both agreed about how the post could be harmful to people with bad mental health.
This conversation taught me a valuable lesson. I shouldn’t have reacted angrily, I should have sent them a message and explained. This small exchange between us made me realise that instead of condemning people’s actions, we should try and educate them (in a non-condescending way), chances are if they are reasonable people they will be understanding.
This person explained their experiences with mental health and we actually had a lot in common. I ended this conversation feeling quite content and happy in the knowledge we had reached an understanding.
So I urge you to do the same. If you see something online, or hear someone speak about mental health in a negative way, challenge them, make them understand how their language makes you feel.
Many throw the phrase “man-up” around and now people are starting to realise that this is not an acceptable way to speak to men. But until people started speaking up and saying this is not OK, this language was thrown around all the time.
It also made me think about how easy it is for people to hop on bandwagons and share things on social media, without really thinking about what they are saying. Take a minute to think about what you share before you share it.
The only way we will change society and stigmas is by educating people. So, what can you do today?