At the latest church meeting in our home, me and my husband decided to talk about mental health. Also, on 5 February, it was 'Time to talk' Day, highlighting the importance of taking 5 min to talk to people you may be concerned about. It could just be something simple like "How are you?" and taking time to listen to someone.
During the meeting, I compared a recent physical injury I had (breaking my knee cap) to dealing with mental health issues such as depression. Below are some of the differences.
The knee injury was public. Anyone could tell from my hopping around on crutches and splint with a degree gague. With mental illness, it is not always public. Certain symptoms maybe visible, but the real depth of the illness can be hard to tell, especially if the person doesn't want to acknowledge the issue.
At work I have received a lot of support which I am very grateful for, such having my chair checked for comfort, being offered a foot rest, being allowed small breaks to improve blood circulation, among other things. At the same time, if someone has a mental illness, that person may not even disclose it to their manager, in fear of stigma and thereby miss out on help.
When I fell on the ice in France and broke the knee cap, I was able to give a clear explanation of the cause of the injury, date and time. With mental illness it can develop over time, and behaviours which started for one reason (e.g. OCD) may be continued for a different reason. When I was young, I was told that my depression was genetical and biological. Having received help over the past years with identifying and recovering from the illness, I can say with confidence that it was not genetical. It is easy to jump to conclusions about why someone is dealing with e.g anxiety, but the reasons are often complex and varied.
Finally, with my knee I can get an x-ray, and see exactly at which stage of the healing process I am at and my doctor will be able to estimate how long it will take before the knee is healed. In therapy, you may circle a number stating your mood and ability to deal with things, but that doesn't mean that the mental illness is gone, it can be a continuing mental battle for years, a fight which hopefully gets easier and easier to win.