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Mental illness does not make me a monster

August 22, 2012

Kelly Boylin from Flintshire was admitted to hospital due to mental health problems. This included self-harm so severe that she was taken to an A&E department. The 21-year-old has now set up a campaign called Kim’s Voice in memory of her sister who committed suicide in 2009 at the age of 20. Here, she explains why mental health stigma is such a huge issue:

Kelly Boylin

Kelly Boylin

Until I was 15, I didn’t get any help and suffered in silence. I knew I was in pain and wanted it to stop, but my family didn’t understand and neither did I – so I didn’t get help.

People often don’t understand mental illness. I’ve been shouted at for certain types of behaviour and reacted to that. Even now, I get flippant remarks – ‘get a grip’, or ‘you’ll be fine’. Sometimes I think mental illness isn’t taken seriously, but, just like physical illnesses, it can be life and death. You just can’t always see it.

People sometimes think I must be unpredictable or even dangerous but I’m not some monster. I’m quite Zen – I’m into Buddhism and Tai Chi, and I love animals – I’ve been into horse riding since I was little.

People need to hear stories like mine at first hand if we’re all going to change things. When I start a conversation about mental health I get weird looks – as if I’m talking about the plague coming back. The way people look at you can be damaging, because mental health conditions can feed off those kinds of reactions. But the more I talk about mental health and help people understand, the better I feel.

I’m a strong and intelligent person. If I didn’t have mental health problems I wouldn’t be this strong. I campaign for mental health issues, so in a way, I’m thankful that I know what I do.

Editor’s note: Kelly is a champion for Time to Change Wales. It has just launched an advertising campaign featuring print, television, radio and outdoor advertising along with real life stories from people with mental health problems to encourage people in Wales to talk about mental health. BIG-funded Time to Change Wales is the first national campaign to end the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health problems in Wales.

As well as being a champion, Kelly runs her own campaign around crisis intervention and mental health. You can find out more on Twitter @KellyBoylin and at www.Facebook.com/kimsvoiceSAF

You can find out more about Time to Change Wales and mental health stigma and discrimination at www.timetochangewales.org.uk on Twitter @ttcwales and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ttcwales

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Phil permalink
    August 22, 2012 12:22 pm

    Mental health is a much-neglected issue and I’m glad to see that the Big Lottery Fund is supporting those with Mental Health problems. As a ‘hidden’ illness, sufferers are often dismissed, but just because it isn’t visible doesn’t make it any less damaging than any other illness. My wife has been struggling with postnatal depression, and all the NHS can do is provide her with anti-depressants. Greater understanding of her condition, and the support that this knowledge would generate from others, would be much more beneficial to her. This is why campaigns like Time to Change are so important.

    • biglotteryfundwales permalink
      August 22, 2012 12:37 pm

      Thank you for your comment Phil. Time to Change Wales will definitely help improve understanding. Through the Big Lottery Fund’s Mental Health Matters programme, we have also awarded £14 million to projects throughout Wales promoting the rehabilitation and independence of people with serious mental health problems. All this funding will leave a lasting legacy by helping to turn the tide against stigma and discrimination.

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