Mental Health Awareness Week is taking place from 9-15 May 2022. People severely affected by mental illness are being left behind in the national conversation about mental health. We need to change this.

The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is loneliness which is fitting, when you consider the events of the last two years.

At points, we’ve all missed talking to our families or friends in the flesh, we’ve all longed for a hug from that one person who makes us feel safe, we’ve all longed for that freedom to do what we wanted to do. That isolation we all felt is something that can have a profound impact on our mental health, without doubt.

But for many of us living with severe mental illness, that level of isolation is all too familiar. Out of Area placements in mental health wards tear families away from their loved ones, restraint and seclusion is overused in the mental health act and the isolation caused by poverty has increased as benefits have seen a real-terms cut amidst a soaring cost of living crisis.

There have been some positive changes in recent times. Stigma around some mental health issues such as anxiety and depression have improved, the NHS Long Term Plan has committed to creating a community model of mental health care and the government is in the process of reforming the Mental Health Act and consulting on a 10 year cross departmental plan for mental health. But, put bluntly, this is nowhere near enough.

While many of us feel more able to talk about our mental health and wellbeing, we are yet to see a big enough shift in the narrative around mental illness, particularly for some of the most stigmatised conditions and symptoms.

Just 5-15% of people living with schizophrenia are employed. People living with severe mental illness are six to seven times more likely to be unemployed than the general population. People who are homeless are 4-15 times more likely to experience psychosis than the general population.

Even in the mental health sector, how often do you hear from people living with personality disorders? Or schizoaffective disorder? Or dissociative disorders?

Not enough.

People living with severe mental illness are too often left behind. But not this year. This year, for Mental Health Awareness Week, we want to see a change.

That’s why we’re providing those of us living with mental illness with the platform we deserve.

Throughout the week, we’ll touch on the theme of isolation and how it links to the different mental illnesses that are so often forgotten about. Look out for blogs, quotes, videos and lots more.

Don’t miss out on your chance to get involved! Email communications@rethink.org and tell us – in no more than 30 words - the one thing you want the world to know about your condition. We’ll feature our favourites on our social media channels.

Join us. Listen, read, watch and share. Too often, people living with mental illness are left behind. Let’s change that.

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