Last night on Ten’s “The Project”, English cricketer, Andrew “Freddy” Flintoff opened up about his battle with mental illness. It’s great that it’s at the forefront of conversation. Please note, I’m NOT knocking Flintoff. Hell no! It’s great that it’s not being ignored any longer. There is one question to ask:

Is it OK for ANYONE now to open up about mental illness or struggles?

I ask this, because people like Flintoff, are, obviously admired and respected already. They have support instantly. But what about people, for example, who aren’t sports people, or who don’t have such a social standing.

I think we have a two – faced attitude when it comes to mental illness and particularly when things like bullying and discrimination are the cause of the distress. People who do speak up are often told to take a bucket of cement and suck it up.

Or what about singer Jessica Mauboy’s recent panic attack at this year’s Melbourne Cup? Wasn’t it easy to say to her to suck it up? When someone talks about combating things like homophobia, people say that they don’t like to be “preached at”.

What I’m getting at here, is that if we’re going to talk about mental illness as a whole, we need to hear from ALL people. We need to support those wo suffer symptoms like panic attacks, etc without judgement. ALL people, from all walks of life need to be given permission and feel safe in getting help and, if they want to, in sharing their experiences with mental illness. It’s a conversation that needs to be open to EVERYONE.

 

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