Perhaps you recognize it, it is easier for you to talk about your headache or asthmatic complaints than about your panic attacks or depression. Although we live in the 21st century, there is stíll a taboo on mental complaints, while in the Netherlands 43,5% of the people experience mental complaints in their lifespan. In comparison to for example 9% of the adults who experienced asthma.

But why is it easier to talk about asthma, than mental complaints? Everybody had heard jokes about people who have a screw loose, people who act “crazy” or people who are wished into a mental institute. Do you still dare to say that you are suffering panic attacks and that for a long time, you were afraid to go to the supermarket because you were afraid to faint? Perhaps you are ashamed, afraid of not being understood, stigmatization or of being left out. Because that is what people can do indeed. We should all think differently about mental disorders. We should set our fears and prejudices aside and talk about it together!

Importance of breaking through the taboo

Because mental complaints are still not fully accepted or understood, people are not keen to say that they are not feeling well. Especially in certain cultures or professional groups. Let take doctors for example. Research shows that non-vital doctors make more mistakes and are less empathetic in their contact with patients. They are more often ill, are more prone to burnout, depression and physical complaints. They act strong out of fear of the judgement of colleagues, or the loss of status or position in a department. That is why they often just keep on working until they are emotionally of physically exhausted.

How would this scenario look like when it is accepted to talk about your mental complaints? That when you tell your manager you are experiencing depressive feeling, he listens, understands and tells about his own burnout and the panic complaints of his wife. The sooner you alert your surroundings when you experience a lesser mental health, the less long term stress related complaints arise. What is necessary for this? Courage!

Have the courage to step forward with your mental complaints

Luckily there has been movement in the taboo! In 2013 a couple of British members of parliament told about their mental disorders. The slogan ‘No Health Without Mental Health’ as an enormous impact in England. Lady Gaga, Ellen Degeneres, J.K. Rowling, Bruce Springstein and soccer player Andès Iniesta also told openly about their experienced depression. The Dutch also show more openness. GTST-actrice Marly van der Velden told about the eating disorder she overcome, Sophie Hilbrand and Hugo borst told about their burnout and radio dj Stephan Bouwman about his depression. De American top swimmer Michael Phelps experienced recurring depressions and the Dutch Olympic Gold winning ice skater Stefan Groothuis was also depressed. You might wonder if such successful and strong people like them can have a depression? Yes they can! Feel strengthened by their example to step forward. Stand up, find the courage and talk. Together we stand strong and we can break the taboo!

No health without mental health

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Try writing down your thoughts and feelings in the ‘Feeling Registration’ in NiceDay to get insight in what goes on in your mind and body. Are you up for an extra challenge? Try talking about your thoughts and feelings to someone you trust by planning ‘something outside your comfort zone’ in NiceDay.

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Ilya de Groot

Hi, my name is Ilya, I am a psychologist and coach at NiceDay. I love traveling, good food, new experiences and exercising (roller skating and skiing). The balance between effort and relaxation is important to keep, are you managing? I would like to help you with that!

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