Ditch the Label author Joe Plumb writes about how important it is to believe someone’s mental health journey
I think we can all agree that the news recently has caused a lot of negativity and some ways opinions have been expressed have shocked us all. Social media has been pretty grim since the Harry & Meghan interview was released. So many spread the #BeKind and #MentalHealthMatters messages but it seems like those messages have just been forgotten.
I was so shocked and disappointed with Piers Morgan on ‘Good Morning Britain’ the day after the interview was aired to the public. I was also saddened to hear of the alleged things that had been said to Harry & Meghan but also the way they said they were treated.
We have awareness days, weeks and months for mental health and promote people to openly talk about their feelings, seek help if they’re struggling and reiterate that no matter who you are, doing this is not a sign of weakness nor should you be judged for it. It doesn’t matter whether or not you ‘believe’ someone is feeling suicidal, there’s only one thing you should do. Believe them and listen to them.
Someone who is well known, has a lot of media coverage and a big following like Piers, needs to be aware that certain things they say can have a big impact on the lives of others. When he said this, it puts a message out there to people struggling that if they are going to talk about their feelings and if they open up because they are struggling, ‘you might not be believed and you might be judged’ and that’s wrong. But it is not just for those in the public eye to act as role models, and we should all try to be more of an example in our own lives.
ITV have been running a mental health campaign ‘Britain Get Talking’ to encourage people to reach out and seek support and so obviously drew a lot of criticism for Piers Morgan’s outburst on morning television, and it’s clear that the issue is not going away. The campaign itself has good ideas and a good message, but it’s easy for this message to become confused and even misinterpreted when these things are happening. Instead, just imagine what good it could have done, if we simply chose to believe someone who is going through a mental health crisis, regardless of their wealth, background or current circumstances.
These are questions that need to be answered and need to be addressed. As someone with autism and who struggles a lot with mental illness, this really upset me, but it has given me more of a drive to promote kind messages and make sure everyone knows that being open about how we feel, seeking help and just talking about things that affect us openly is ok and you should not be judged for doing so.
I’m all for freedom of speech but we need to remember, our words can have serious consequences and we need to be mindful of what we say or post on our social media accounts.
The one good thing about this whole situation is once again, it has sparked conversations around racism, mental health, the press etc. Conversations that need to be had and hopefully it will spark a change in things for the better.
I wish Harry & Meghan all the best and I do hope the allegations are looked into and if necessary, dealt with and I hope we can all be a kinder, loving and more accepting world.
We are all human beings. We all matter. We all deserve love & respect. Be kind!
Joe is fully aware of the devastating impact bullying can cause, and that recovery is a journey. From a young age, Joe was bullied, assaulted and isolated. He has volunteered for national organisations such as the British Medical Association, The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services and The British Youth Council. He went on to set up the ‘Speak Up, Speak Out’ campaign with support from James Arthur, Sinitta Malone and Richard Branson.
He has worked tirelessly to change mental health services and implement better ways to help children and young people stand up and speak out against bullying. He has also worked with the Home Office on developing a supportive disclosure toolkit to help those with autism and other additional learning needs to communicate what was going on if they were experiencing bullying.