Wednesday, 15 October 2014

World Mental Health Week

So last week, we saw people all across the world celebrating World Mental Health week in various shapes and forms. Working for a Mental Health Trust, mental health is a phrase I am exposed to daily and one I am able to speak about openly and confidently. However, the same can't be said for your everyday person, your supposedly 'happy' celebrity. Mental health, it appears, is something many of us are too embarrassed or afraid to speak about. Even though the stigmas surrounding mental health are currently being challenged more than ever today, in the media especially, this is something that needs to be addressed. We are certainly seeing an increase in people opening up about their mental health state. However, I think we still have a long way to go before this is something that is discussed openly and willingly.

I had a great day on Saturday at our own World Mental Health event, speaking with a whole range of people, mainly volunteers and service users who were able to share their experiences with the public, and really challenge those stigmas surrounding mental health. I think raising awareness of it, especially in those deprived areas is extremely important as individuals may not be as knowledgeable on how to go about seeking help. From my personal experience, I now understand what it means to be mentally ill. However, prior to this, I had no idea of the impact of such an illness on your life. 

We are often too quick to feel sorry for someone with a broken leg or a bleeding nose, but this is only because we can see their pain.  So what happens when you can't see the problem? Does this mean it's okay to ignore it or to not ask them if they're okay? Of course not. Sometimes it is the little things, like asking them how their day is going or if they would like a chat. Those things I have learnt are the most important when helping someone on their road to recovery. Take the #findmike campaign. This went global and rightly so. An ordinary man offering his time to someone who had quite clearly given up on life. Mental health isn't something we can see so clearly, but I would say it is more important to take care of than our physical health. If you aren't feeling well enough to leave the house or carry out day to day tasks, then this may escalate into more problematic issues.

We need to open our eyes more to what mental health really means. Mental health doesn't have to mean suicidal, it can refer to a whole range of problems. Maybe someone is stressed at work or has lost a loved one and isn't feeling too cheerful. If they get help early then they are likely to make a quick and full recovery. It is when the problems aren't addressed, and people don't want to open up when things start to become more complicated. Obviously you have your more severe cases, but everyone deserves to be listened to, everyone deserves a voice. We all experience hard times in our life, but the hardest thing of all, opening up and speaking to someone. Don't be embarrassed, don't be afraid of the unknown. More than likely you are not alone and there will be someone out there to help you. It definitely needs more intervention and hopefully in next year's election, this will be addressed. 

What's your stance on mental health? How did you spend world mental health week?


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