Today is world mental health day. It seemed wrong not to post today given that my blog is about mental health. I have been wondering for the last few days what to write today, but it’s getting late and no plans came to mind so I’ll just wing it –
It makes me incredibly sad that many people don’t seek help for their mental health because they are ashamed. It makes me sad that they don’t think their friends or family will support them (whether or not this belief is true – sadly it often is). You wouldn’t hesitate to go to the doctors about a physical condition, but for some reason it’s different if it’s psychological. Because people should just “man up”, “it’ll all be ok in the end, you’ll see” right? People should just “get over it” and “cheer up” right?
If only it were that simple.
So if you’re reading this and you’re one of those people who is scared to speak out, I urge you to seek help. Getting treatment could lead to a much happier life and can prevent things getting worse, getting to crisis point. No matter how badly you think of yourself, you are worthy of help, you are great and you will get through this. And if you have some help to do it, that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Maybe it’s even brave to face up to our struggles, to ask for help!
And if you’re one of those people who thinks people should just “cheer up” and “get over it” then I urge you to do some research, find out about mental health. The research speaks for itself, mental health conditions do exist – they affect the brain chemistry, they have a massive impact on people’s lives and it’s not their fault. Try to understand what it must be like to struggle daily with mental health issues and then maybe you will see that we can’t just “cheer up”, it’s not that easy.
Maybe you just don’t know what to say? That’s ok! Sometimes all that is needed is a listening ear, sometimes being here is enough. We don’t need all the answers, but we need to be taken seriously, we need someone to talk to, someone to do their best to understand. That is enough, there are experts for the rest of it, but you – the family member, the friend – YOU are who we need to support us when things are bad.
And for those of you who are fighting your personal hell each day, keep going. Things can change, no matter how hard it seems. Seek help when you need it (whether professional or support from a friend/family). Take time to look after yourself, I am a big believer in self care. Sometimes you feel selfish and worthless, but you are not, you simply need to look after your mental health as you would your physical health.
I challenge you all to do something to help… Raise awareness, post on Facebook or Twitter. Fight stigma by challenging people’s beliefs, by calling people out on jokes about mental health. Ask someone how they are (really mean it) and listen to their answer, be there as a listening ear instead of rushing off as usual. Text that friend that you haven’t heard from in a while, smile at the old lady you see at the bus stop. Do something nice because you can. The world needs more random acts of kindness.
Together we will get through this, together we will fight stigma.
Lots of love,