How many of you have experience with or know somebody with an invisible illness? How many people do you know are suffering from an invisible illness?
Think of that number. The truth is, it’s probably a lot more.
Starting on 25th November and running until the 29th, Swansea University will be holding Invisible Illnesses Week in order to raise awareness of mental health conditions that affect members of the student population and are far more common than you might think. It is encouraging to see this sort of thing happening on campus. Many people suffering from chronic conditions do so in silence often due to stigma surrounding the different issues and there is no way of telling who feels in need of some support; after all, these things are not so obvious as hobbling about on a broken leg. Hopefully this will prove to people that it is okay to ask for help and the services that are available at university.
Disability welfare officer Tori Ilana-Evans is enthusiastic about the drive. “I’m really passionate about invisible illnesses week because having experienced a mental illness myself I know how tough it is getting past that stigma. So many people go through it and yet everyone feels alone. If we can break down the barriers and get out of what we have somehow come to make taboo then we can redefine what it means to have a mental illness. It’s a lonely experience when it really shouldn’t be and it makes me so sad that there is still so much stigma surrounding it. People laugh at mental illness; they turn it into a joke because they don’t understand it.” Asked about what she aims to achieve through this event, she hopes the week will shed a little bit of light on the issues that get ignored. “If I help just one person feel good about themselves I’ll have done my job.”
The event will be in aid of both B-eat and the Mental Wealth Society and there will be the chance to contribute to the fundraising drive with cake sales and games outside Fulton House for you to enjoy. Information leaflets on various mental conditions will be available and there will always be someone there to speak to if you have any burning questions.
The itinerary for the week (which may be subject to change slightly) is as follows:
Monday – Eating Disorders and Addictions
Tuesday – Anxiety Disorders
Wednesday – LGBT and mental wellbeing
Thursday – Depression and Bipolar
Friday – Chronic Illnesses, Autism and OCD
Get involved, get informed and help raise funds for some of the causes that have been a lifeline to many in times of mental distress. This is about removing stigma, breaking free of taboo and proving that there is help available with mental health and nobody ever has to suffer alone.
Invisible does not have to mean forgotten about.
by Natalie Ann Holborow
Have you got any experiences with invisible illnesses and the support available (or unavailable) to you that you’d like to share? Let us know at The Siren!