Today is world mental health day. A day which ‘raises public awareness about mental health issues’. it’s a day where my twitter feed has been full of people talking about their experiences of mental health, of the experiences of people they know, of their hopes and dreams for mental health and the future, I’ve flipping loved it!
It’s exciting to see people being open and honest, having frank discussions about mental health. It’s brilliant and I love it, but what I would love even more, is for it to become the norm. I suffer from anxiety, and haven’t experienced any stigma, but I know some people do when they share mental health issues. I also feel like people find it embarrassing or awkward, like they don’t really know what to do or say, so it’s just avoided and never talked about. Why?! If someone has been suffering with a cold, when you saw them you’d ask how they were feeling, so why should it be any different just because it’s a psychiatric disorder? If you don’t want to talk about it, you can just answer with the customary ‘I’m fine’, but if you do feel like you want to, need to, or are happy to talk about it, it gives you a chance. I’m not saying we have to show all our dirty washing to the world and tell everyone everything, but we need to create an environment where it’s ok for it to happen, rather than mental health being a taboo subject.
1 in 4 people with have a mental health problem at some time in their lives. That’s a lot! So why is the subject still so often skirted around? The more people talk about it, the easier it will become. You can’t solve a problem by shying away from it.
Yes, you might not know what to say, you might accidentally offend someone, but so long as you don’t do it out of meanness, they shouldn’t mind too much because we all have to learn. For all I know I could have offend someone with the language or terms used here (sorry if I have) but at least I’m having a go.
I’m excited and passionate (perhaps I didn’t realise how much!) about making it ok not to be ok, to create a place where people feel safe to share their health problems and don’t have to worry about how people will react.
So let’s get talking. If you have mental health problems, tell someone, share it. If you know someone with mental health problems, talk to them about it. Even if you’re none of the above, still talk about it! We need to make it so that there is no stigma or awkwardness around mental health, and so that talking about it is the norm!
So I’ll set you off. I’m Helen, I’m a student, and I have anxiety. You can read a bit about it here, or ask me about it yourself!