Mental health stigma

Susan Falconer
Susan Falconer

A national mental health charity claims Borderers still face discrimination when it comes to dealing with the issue.

See Me is Scotland’s programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination – and this week launched a new nationwide campaign.

And when it comes to the Borders, See Me said these issues, often still associated with mental health problems, has left some local people feeling “belittled and worthless”, and that action needs to be taken to end it.

See Me’s latest campaign goes under the banner of “People like you will end mental health discrimination” and aims to create a culture in Scotland that enables people who experience mental health issues to lead fulfilled lives.

Nine out of 10 people with these problems still suffer from stigma or discrimination in work, education, health care and at home, according to See Me.

Susan Falconer, 47, from Galashiels has faced discrimination during her career as some people “didn’t take her seriously” due to her depression.

Susan told us: “This has happened particularly at work. People will dismiss what I say and say, ‘Oh, she is just reacting like that because of her illness’.

“When that happens I feel like I’m being treated like a second-class citizen. People don’t take what I say seriously because I have depression.

“Someone even said to me once, ‘You don’t look like a victim’. Often you will have people say to you, ‘What have you got to be depressed about?’

“When people don’t take you seriously it makes you feel belittled and worthless.

“Everyone is a human being and should be treated equally. You wouldn’t belittle someone with cancer, but people with mental health issues can be seen as down-and-outs. They are not. They are normal members of society.”

The new campaign wants Borderers to take action, which could range from directly challenging someone they see discriminating, to supporting someone who is struggling due to a mental health problem.

With one in four people likely to experience a mental health issue every year, the new campaign is calling on the other three in four to be there to help.

Judith Robertson, See Me’s programme director, said: “Everyone has mental health and we can all be hit by mental ill-health.

“But we each have the power to make a positive difference in the lives of our families, friends and colleagues when they are affected by mental health problems.

“See Me, our partners, allies and supporters are building a movement which will bring people together from all over the country and encourage them to challenge discrimination at its roots.”