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By Radhika Sanghani
10:30AM GMT 03 Feb 2014

Reports show women face more of a stigma about mental health from family and friends than men do. Radhika Sanghani had the same problem after being in a serious accident

I was in a fatal coach crash in Thailand in February 2013. Five people died and my friend lost his foot. I was physically uninjured, but I was left with a mental health illness – post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

At the time I was 22 years old and only knew about the condition from reading novels about the war. It hadn’t occurred to me that it was something young, ‘normal’ people could get; I had just associated it with soldiers.

But after the accident I quickly had to readjust my perceptions of mental illness. I realised just how many people are affected by PTSD and understood the condition comes from severe trauma and leads to symptoms such as flashbacks, depression and anxiety. I also learnt the consequences of talking about it aloud – especially to friends.

It hadn’t occurred to me that mental illness still had a stigma attached to it, but when certain friends and acquaintances stopped talking to me when I told them about my PTSD or raised their eyebrows when I mentioned a therapy appointment, I realised how wrong I was. My young, ‘modern’ friends were discriminating against me because of my mental health problems.

Now, almost a year later, I have finished my therapy treatments and am free from PTSD, but I am fully aware that the stigma is still rife when it comes to mental health problems – especially for women. A recent study, launched as part of Time to Change’s campaign to get people talking about mental health, shows how prevalent the stigma is.

I was in a fatal coach crash in Thailand in February 2013. Five people died and my friend lost his foot. I was physically uninjured, but I was left with a mental health illness – post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

At the time I was 22 years old and only knew about the condition from reading novels about the war. It hadn’t occurred to me that it was something young, ‘normal’ people could get; I had just associated it with soldiers.

But after the accident I quickly had to readjust my perceptions of mental illness. I realised just how many people are affected by PTSD and understood the condition comes from severe trauma and leads to symptoms such as flashbacks, depression and anxiety. I also learnt the consequences of talking about it aloud – especially to friends.

It hadn’t occurred to me that mental illness still had a stigma attached to it, but when certain friends and acquaintances stopped talking to me when I told them about my PTSD or raised their eyebrows when I mentioned a therapy appointment, I realised how wrong I was. My young, ‘modern’ friends were discriminating against me because of my mental health problems.

Now, almost a year later, I have finished my therapy treatments and am free from PTSD, but I am fully aware that the stigma is still rife when it comes to mental health problems – especially for women. A recent study, launched as part of Time to Change’s campaign to get people talking about mental health, shows how prevalent the stigma is.

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