Mental health is an important issue for everyone, and something everyone should be actively working to improve and look after for themselves – but it’s even more important for those who have disorders that may cause certain emotions and have various negative effects on their self-esteem or outlook.
Today kicks of Mental Health Awareness Week, and to do our bit for the New Zealand community, we’ll be looking at why people who stutter can often have mental health issues, as well as advice for how to combat this.
Here at START we firmly believe that those who stutter can be just as confident and outgoing as those who don’t, and we’ve seen many wonderful clients who have gone on to have amazing careers in the spotlight, whether that be on the stage, in debates, or as strong speakers in their industry. Stuttering is a disorder that stems from the neural processing area of the brain that controls speech – it has no effect on a person’s intelligence.
Nevertheless, for many people who stutter it can feel daunting to speak, and many social scenarios are made difficult – and this can have an adverse effect on mental health. Anxiety is a common issue for people who stutter, who may find speaking causes anxiety and stress, which can often exacerbate into wider issues. Anxiety and depression often follow each other, and when either goes unchecked things can become serious.
For people who stutter, and the people who know them, it’s important to foster an environment that encourages personal expression and communication. If you know someone who stutters it’s important you don’t speak over them, try to finish their sentences for them, or generally appear hurried for them to finish what they are saying. Actions such as these can worsen anxiety and make communicating an unpleasant experience for the person who stutters.
If you yourself stutter, let people know about resources they can look into that will help them understand better. Sharing this blog post on Facebook is a great start, and bringing it up in conversation can help people who care about you to understand what is appropriate and helpful.
It’s also important to look after yourself, and pay attention to how you’re feeling. If you are starting to feel anxious – which comes in many forms, but can manifest in shaking hands, tight chest, fast heartbeat, uncommon breathing, or fidgetiness and a lack of concentration – then it’s important to speak to your speech language therapist or your GP about how you can combat this. Seeking help can be daunting, but anxiety often goes hand in hand with stuttering so it should be looked after as well. As anxiety can often lead to depression it’s important to take necessary steps to look after yourself.
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and if you need anyone to speak to then please don’t hesitate to call the following hotlines, or look into the following websites: