Is Talking About Anxiety Doing More Harm Than Good?

I feel it is incredibly important to talk about all things mental health and anxiety in schools. 

I have always believed in the old saying “a problem shared is a problem halved”. I encourage my children to always come to us with any problems, big or small. That there is nothing we can’t talk about and work out together.
The only way we can help is if we know about the problem.
I think talking is the first step in the answer to most of life’s problems. I feel it is incredibly important to talk about all things mental health and anxiety in schools. There are mixed opinions, however, some think perhaps the mention of anxiety will have children wrongly assume they have anxiety, when in fact what they’re experiencing is a normal feeling for what they’re going through.
Whether it be a tummy pain before a test or a football match or not being able to sleep the night before their school tour. Some feel by even introducing the words mental health and anxiety, it will have children wrongly self-diagnosing.

I don’t agree; I think information is power. I think if we have to go a step further in educating the future generation, by explaining what is “normal” worry/excitement and what is not it, it can only be beneficial.
Studies show it is a minority that suffers from mental health concerns, but I think children should be educated so no matter, not just to help themselves but others as well.
With that said, the subject of mental health is incredibly complex, but for Stella O’Malley, it’s gone way too far. Stella, an Irish psychotherapist, thinks that we have become a nation of “snowflakes”, that talking about mental health doesn’t achieve anything and that we’re sending the wrong message by making anxiety ‘an excuse for everything’.

Stella appeared on ‘This Morning’ last week, explaining why she feels we need to resist repeating mindless phrases, like 'it's good to talk', as she believes these over-simplified messages can be unhelpful.
Not surprisingly, many felt her controversial comments were outrageous and could seriously damage attitudes to mental health issues.

Stella wonders as a nation what we are doing wrong? Why is it that we are becoming more anxious and stressed than ever before despite the fact that almost everywhere we go somebody, somewhere is advising us to take care of our mental health?
It doesn't really make sense - unless, of course, all this emphasis on mental health is leading us even further down the rabbit hole?
"Of course the basic point of this particular message is perfect - yes, it is good to talk but it's good to listen too and there seems to be plenty of rubbish listeners out there," Stella explained. 
"Sadly, in our busy culture, many people are too impatient, too self-absorbed or too stressed themselves to be able to listen properly.”
Presenter Rochelle Humes disagreed with O’Malley, saying: “We have moved so far with people being so open, with Perrie (Little Mix member) bringing attention to such an important topic.”

Stella, on the other hand, feels that the problem is it's only good to talk if it's at the right time, with the right person, in the right way.
It is true that if we to talk to someone who is kind, thoughtful and empathic, we will feel a million times better. However, a difficult conversation with a semi-professional armchair healer can be disastrous and the speaker can be left feeling inadequate, misunderstood and isolated.

Rochelle Humes again disagreed with O’Malley and said: “We have spent time encouraging people to talk because it’s so important so to say now we are doing it too much?”.

O’Malley simply replied: “We are not doing it too much we are just doing it wrong”.
She suggests we should change the “way” we talk about mental health.

Here are her suggestions-

Existing slogan
  • It's good to talk.
  • Ask for help.
  • Focus on your feelings.
  • Listen to your gut.
  • If it feels wrong, don't do it.
  • There are no bad feelings, just feelings.
  • It's okay not to be okay.

Improved slogan

  • Find someone with whom you can connect and you will feel better if you open up.
  • It's good to talk to the right person at the right time.
  • Ask for help, and keep asking until you get the help you need.
  • Acknowledge your feelings and always consider the facts as well.
  • Listen to your gut, but also listen to your wise brain for even better counsel.
  • If it feels wrong, consider that we often have to suffer short-term pain for long-term gain
  • Bad feelings, when addressed, can change into good feelings.
  • It's okay to try to feel better.

What do YOU think readers? Do you think we are talking ourselves into anxiety? Or like me do you think only good can come from talking?

Laura Doyle, Mum of 4. Kyle 9, Noa Belle 4, Briar 2 and Milla 12 months. Breastfeeder, co-sleeper, coffee drinker. Staying positive and inspired by the chaos of it all. Follow her on Instagram.

Laura Doyle

Mum of four, Gentle parent living on coffee and trying always to stay positive and motivate in the midst of the madness.

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