Last weekend I went to London and I decided to visit the Welcome Collection near Euston with an exhibition on called ‘Bedlam: the asylum and beyond’ which outlined the rise and fall of the mental asylum and how it has shaped the landscape of mental health today.

The exhibition included testimonials, photographs, art work and much more from doctors, patients, and members of the public, all collected from asylums in London over the past couple of centuries. It was unbelievable that the behaviours on display were normal and acceptable not too long ago. History seems to work in this way; we act in a way we think is normal and acceptable and then in the future people display our behaviours as art and critique it as though it’s an alien concept. No doubt in 100 years there will be a Nat’s Chat exhibition…right?

The exhibition highlighted the problem that mental health issues are still not treated well in society today. Not so much in the medical practise but in the social aspect. There is still a negative stigma that accompanies the issues of mental health and many people are unaware that they are playing up to this. People who suffer from some form of mental health issues will not always have physical scars and therefore, often they are not regarded as less important and not acknowledged the way they deserve to be.

If you break your arm, you go to a doctor who gives you support to heal. The difference between someone who breaks their arm and someone who is suffering from depression, is that the person with depression may not initially think to seek help. Sometimes it just takes someone who has taken the time to listen to help them on the right path. This is why it is very important to be aware of the people around you because you never know who may need your help.

After speaking to a few people about this issue, I noticed that there were similar comments arising. One man said, ‘It is unacceptable in modern day society that people find it acceptable to push people down instead of lending a hand. Although many may not realise they are doing harm, not acknowledging or paying attention to those close to you can have drastic effects’.

In the UK, suicide is the leading cause of death among young people aged 20-34 in the UK and it is considerably higher in men. According to the Mental Health Foundation, three-quarters of all people who end their own lives are not in contact with mental health services. These figures are heart-breaking, but it is good that we know them because it offers us a chance to stand up as a society and fight against this.

Mental health will always be an issue, but the negative stigma need not be.