World Mental Health Day is a day of awareness, keeping fresh in our minds that anyone can suffer from mental health issues, at any time, in any place. And yet, we still hear “What have they got to be depressed about?” or my favourite one “they’re just doing it for attention.” I put those up there with “it’s all in their head” which is, in and of itself, a ridiculous statement that doesn’t acknowledge that your entire body is run from inside your head, yes, sometimes we have issues that can’t be easily identified, but that doesn’t make them imaginary. However, that is a rant for another day.
So, what is World Mental Health Day?
The Mental Health Foundation can probably explain it better than me, but let’s have a go anyway. World Mental Healthy Day is a day of awareness, raising awareness of the mental health issues people face, even without an ongoing pandemic, as well as raising awareness of the treatments that are accessible, to some that is.
What happens on World Mental Health Day?
The cynical part of me will tell you that World Mental Health Day is when people re-share posts to remind you of World Me- actually, let’s abbreviate that, it’s getting tiresome to type – WMHD, to raise awareness, even if they aren’t always accepting of other peoples’ mental health issues; where businesses share mental health posts while simultaneously neglecting the mental health of their staff. And where nothing much happens aside from feeling guilt tripped for not re-sharing posts. The “I’m always available” is one I used to share, I don’t anymore, I’ve realised if I’m protecting my own mental health that it is impossible for me to be there for everyone anytime, so I don’t share, because I don’t want to lie or let people down.
So, aside from sharing awareness posts for WMHD, what else can we do?
Let’s start with the easy stuff, change your post to include phone numbers or websites, for example Mind, or The Mix, not just suicide prevention phone lines but anyone you think could help those who are struggling.
You can also change how you view mental health issues. Let’s start with the obvious one, yes it’s in your head, it might be an emotional trauma, or a chemical imbalance, it’s hard to know and it’s not okay to ask other’s what their reason is. It’s definitely not okay to point out someone has “no reason” to be depressed. If it was that easy, don’t you think we’d have snapped out of it ages ago? This also means acknowledging that anyone can get depressed, anyone; a teacher, a dancer, a famous singer, the Queen, the elderly person next door, anyone. And they aren’t all okay with letting you know, many will suffer silently out of fear of being told their silly, or crazy, or both. A fear that your anxiety or depression will be belittled, or ignored or worse that people won’t want to be around you if they know, is enough to make you bottle it all up and that’s a hard habit to break.
Say it out loud with me now, “anyone can have mental health issues”. Good, next; “there doesn’t have to be an obvious reason. The reason is not my business, supporting a loved one is”. Okay now we’ve cleared that up, let’s see what resources we can find to help people, this WMHD you can share some of these, you can offer an open door, just make sure that you are doing it for the right reasons, and protecting your own mental health at the same time, only give what you can, don’t make yourself ill fixing others, keep a balance (don’t do what I do lol).
Resources – How can we help?
The Mental Health Foundation offers a lot of advice, podcasts and stats for your viewing, check out their site here: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/your-mental-health
The Mix This is for under 25s, so if you’re a teenager and struggling, or a young adult and you’re struggling, maybe you don’t want to talk to your GP, maybe you can’t. These people can help, they can offer sessions and also have chat available 24/7 if you just need someone in that moment. It’s an incredible group, definitely check it out – https://www.themix.org.uk/
Better Health/Every Mind Matters – NHS This one is an NHS page, we know their waiting lists are long, it’s hard to get to services and some just aren’t available, but we also know how lucky we are to have even this much without paying upfront. I looked at one site for here that said it was affordable therapy at £40-£70 a week! How in the world is that affordable? Can someone on benefits afford it? No? Then it’s not affordable (a bit like affordable housing, it’s affordable compared to the local rates, not low cost, but that’s a rant for another day). That’s a minimum of £160 a month (well four weekly, but you get my point). So, check the site out, there are some useful bits for basic mental health care and a link for urgent help needed, near the bottom of the page, take a look and see what you think. NHS – Better Health – Every Mind Matters. They also have a page to tell you how to access what resources they do have available.
Mind – I’m sending you straight to their resources page, but if you want to know more about them, check out the whole site, they list where to access help, and advice on what your options are etc, it’s worth a look. https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/seeking-help-for-a-mental-health-problem/where-to-start/
Urgent Care – I have included a few links here to sites that offer advice for urgent care. I’m aware that getting taken seriously when in need of urgent care is like an uphill battle, it seems they can’t or won’t help if you go to them saying you think you’re going to hurt yourself, but don’t give up, persist, keep pushing for some way to help you heal and move on from that desperate feeling. Your feelings are valid and you deserve the help and support you need.
So tomorrow, when you re-share those posts, remember that re-sharing isn’t all you can do, raise your own awareness, acknowledge that many people have mental health issues, people you love may be suffering, they may even be trying to tell you. No one needs a reason to have this, no one asked for it. Everyone deserves to have it acknowledged and supported, no matter the illness, no matter if you understand it.
Change your language, stop calling people crazy (or lazy), stop calling them a narcissist just because you don’t like the way they’re behaving; narcissism is a disorder, not just a word you call your arsehole ex, same goes for psycho – I’ve used it inappropriately, learn and change. Stop calling yourself OCD because you’re a bit tidy, that’s not what OCD is and it’s not fun, or overly helpful for most people. I’m not implying being exceedingly tidy or organised can’t be a form of OCD, I’m just highlighting that it doesn’t necessarily mean you are, there’s a difference, if you’re concerned that it’s become unhealthy, beyond just being tidy, definitely talk to your GP.
Oh and pay attention to your staff or co-workers and treat them with respect, they won’t always tell you they’re having a hard time, but you may pick up on it and be able to offer support when they need it. You don’t need to make it worse for them.
As it’s World Mental Health Day tomorrow, share with me your local resources and I’ll add them to this page. Not matter when you find this page, send me your links, let me share them with the world, because mental health issues don’t go away just because it’s not WMHD and neither do the people who need our help.