#PostYourPill Could Save a Life

Marti Stelling (she/her)

The amount of stigma and shame surrounding accessing mental health treatment means that many continue to suffer in silence instead of accessing the help they need.

UK Youth Mental Health Ambassador and former Love Island contestant Dr Alex George candidly shared a photo of the medication that he takes daily on his Instagram page, with the hashtag #postyourpill. But why has this been so influential?

Around 17% of the adult population in the UK take antidepressants according to the UK Government. The chances are, one of your close friends or even family members takes medicine to help with their mental health.

With such a large percentage of the population on antidepressants, why is there such a stigma around taking them?

The answer is simple, but also leads to more questions. Mental health is so stigmatised that even admitting to struggling can be a challenge for many. Fear of being brandished as ‘weak’ or even ‘inferior’ within friendships, families, and workplace settings can discourage people from receiving help.

Unfortunately, this only adds to people’s suffering. The longer somebody puts off receiving treatment, the longer they must suffer.

Medication can quickly provide relief for those suffering with their mental health.

Wait times for counselling and psychological appointments are staggeringly high, meaning that many people must wait well over a year after referral to begin treatment. The Royal College of Psychiatrists found that one-in-four people have had to wait over three months for mental health support.

Medication can provide a crutch that allows people to function while on the waiting list for psychological therapies.

The issue is that people often feel ashamed to even make that initial GP appointment. Admitting to needing help is challenging, but taking the first step will open so many avenues for help and support.

The Love Island star said: “I think it’s a brave decision to take control of your own health and actually just makes you stronger”. There is strength in admitting that you need help.

Many people worry about the side effects of medication and fear that taking antidepressants will change their personality. The reality is that side effects vary from person to person, and it’s up to the individual and their doctor to decide what’s right for them. Most of the time side effects are mild and only persist for the first few weeks, and when upping the dosage.

Often, self-help and relaxation techniques are all that’s needed to help with anxiety and low mood. However, most cases of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders require a combination of medication and therapy to get better.

Dr Alex George has opened up conversation regarding taking antidepressants and has let millions of people know that they are not alone.

Any student experiencing psychological or mental health difficulties does not have to struggle alone. Support is available through the University at https://www.york.ac.uk/students/health/help/.

Samaritans are here – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at [email protected], or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.