Time to change, Time to talk?

How many of us have every been affected by a mental illness?

1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem in any one year, so the  answer should be, most of us.

Although as a society we are improving in our attitude to mental health issues there is still a long way to go.

If so many of us are affected at some time in our lives, why do many people just turn away and have low tolerance on the subject?

It is a fact according to http://www.time-to-change.org.uk 9 out of 10 people with mental health problems experience stigma and discrimination.

So how could mental health have a bearing on family relationships?

In my role of talking and supporting so many people over the last few years, this subject comes up again and again.

I have been given permission to share this story.

A grandparent who experienced a mental health problem earlier in her life, whilst a wife and a mother, is convinced that it is because of her behaviour during that time that relationships have broken down. It was a period that occurred many years ago, she was so low she took to her bed for weeks, which meant that the children had to be looked after by her partner and other members of the family. With help and support she gradually regained her strength and was able to get on with life. But, that stigma was forever there bubbling away in the background ready to explode at any moment. As time went by and the children became adults, they would throw it back at her at every opportunity,it was seen as ‘bad parenting’ they blamed her for everything that was wrong with their life. Eventually, removing their own children from contact with their now grandparent.

Saying things like, ‘we can’t trust you to be ok with the children, you might have a breakdown.’

It can appear that once the ‘label’ of a mental health problem is attached, it can never be removed.  There seems to be a lack of understanding that there is a positive reality of recovery.

All too often, as I have said before is that when situations reach this stage, one side refuses to have an adult conversation with the other, explanations are not allowed, that fact that we are all fallible is not allowed.


It could be that during our earlier life, as young mums or dads we too had to face stresses and strains, financial difficulties,working very long hours to try and make a good life for our families, coping perhaps with a not to good personal relationship, juggling family and work. Sounds familiar? Of course it does. It is hard bringing up a family and all that that entails, not just in 2016 but it was in the 1960’s as well.

Sometimes, it all becomes to difficult and our bodies mentally and physically say, ‘enough is enough’ and we fold.

What is not acceptable, in 2016 is that people are still being blamed for  having an illness that was beyond their control, an illness that can and will strike many, many of us at some time in our lives.

It has to be time for change, and time to have that grown up conversation.






About Jane

Jane setup Bristol Grandparent Support Group in 2007 after a string of incidents led to the loss of contact with her Grand Daughter.

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