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Jess reviews the entertainment category shortlist for this year's VMG Mind Awards. Read her thoughts on this year's nominations and tell us what you think.
Oh, mental health in the workplace; one of the biggest elephants in the room. I admire Channel 4’s efforts to stimulate discussion about this sometimes controversial topic here; putting volunteers through five days of job interviews to see if employers and mental health professionals could tell who was suffering with mental health problems from their performance in different tasks.
The programme reflected a lot of the stigma that still surrounds mental health at work – with one employer even saying that if a candidate had a mental health problem, he would be ‘very sad for them’ but ‘wouldn’t employ them.’ It is these views that have left many, including myself, worried about speaking up about my own struggles at work.
Interestingly enough, in some cases even the psychiatrist and psychologist observing the vigorous interviews couldn’t always correctly tell if the individual had a mental health problem or not. This was a really important point as it showed that looking after mental health in the workplace was an issue that affected everyone, not just those with a diagnosed mental health problem.
I really respect Frankie from the Saturdays for talking openly to the public about her struggles with depression. It greatly highlights the fact that, just because on paper your life is great, emotionally you can still really be struggling. This is an aspect of mental health problems that is often overlooked; there can be an attitude that someone can have ‘no right’ to be down or depressed. This documentary really showed how someone in the public eye opening up about their own mental health difficulties can raise awareness so significantly, and the reaction to Frankie’s interview with Glamour magazine, where she discussed her battle with depression, really showed this. It also highlights the importance of campaigns which challenge the stigma attached to opening up to people about a mental health problem.
It was really refreshing to see young people being passionate enough about mental health problems to go out and be the change they wish to see. From depression to self-harm to drug addiction; the Fixers projects showed just how much young people want to raise awareness about difficult issues through a variety of innovative projects; whether it’s producing films about their experiences or holding workshops in local schools to spread their message.
The Fixers projects also highlighted a concerning factor though; that some GPs and teachers do not feel adequately skilled to give young people the support that they need. Similar to Frankie in Chasing the Saturdays, I feel by young people speaking up about issues that they have been personally affected by, be it themselves or through family/friends, it will stimulate much needed conversation. I believe this is what really matters, for everyone to feel comfortable enough to ask for the support they need to recover, not to keep their difficulties hidden for fear of being judged.
We've come a long way, but there is still work to be done to challenge stigma, which is why these programmes are so important. Now we need to continue rewriting these attitudes in all aspects of life.
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We'll fight your corner. We believe everyone with a mental health problem should be able to access excellent care and services. We also believe you should be treated fairly, positively and with respect.
Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.