Don't Mind Me - World Mental Health Day 2018
Today is the 10th October. It’s World Mental Health Day.
I’m starting writing this blog, knowing deep down inside me somewhere I must have something I need to share with you about mental health, but I’ll admit it right now dear reader, I’m not sure where this is going. I’m letting my fingers do the talking…
We are all told, so often “We need to talk more about mental health”. I’m sure we’ve all heard that, and I’m sure we all agree that yes, we should talk about it more.
If only it were that easy though. Right?
Mental Health is an enormous umbrella. So many different conditions, diseases, causes, symptoms, cures and treatments all levelled under the “Mental Health” roof that sometimes it can seem like such an overwhelming area to tackle, people just look the other way and get on with their own issues. And I get that. I don’t want to start filling this post with statistics about population percentages, how many people out of 10 suffer with mental illness at some point in their life.
I want to focus on the fact that even if we are the fortunate ones who don’t suffer from a diagnosed mental health condition, it doesn’t mean we aren’t all, in some way affected by mental health.
A large number of my favourite and dearest friends and relatives have diagnosed conditions which come under the “Mental Health” bracket. I’m sure you are the same. We all know someone.
I have friends and loved ones who are medicated with anti depressants, I have friends who regularly see therapists and counsellors, friends who have seriously considered taking their own lives, friends who have spent time as patients in mental health units at various levels. I have friends who have lost loved ones to suicide, I have lost members of my family to conditions that come under “Mental Health”.
I would imagine that many of you are nodding along. “Yes, I know someone with depression, I know someone in therapy, I had a friend who took their own life. I know someone with an addiction”.
How often do we see reports about mental health, posts on Facebook about how devastating depression is, how often do you see the affects that mental health conditions have on people, on your friends and loved ones, and think to yourself “I’m so lucky this doesn’t affect me”?
Think Again. These are your loved ones. These are your friends. Of course this affects you. It affects me. It affects us all.
When I was 19, my father died from his addiction to, and dependance on alcohol. He had a mental illness, and his mental illness affected me too, of course it did. I bore witness to my dad becoming more and more helplessly and hopelessly ill. That affected me. It affected my family and my friends too.
My point is that those of us who may be fortunate enough not to live with these conditions, do not live without mental illness in our lives. We can all do something to help.
I think it’s sometimes too easy to get stuck into our own concerns when it comes to trying to help. Perhaps it’s the word “help” that does that. I want to help all my friends and loved ones to get stronger, but I’m not a trained counsellor, I’m not a mental health nurse, a psychiatrist, I’m not even a particularly good advisor half of the time. BUT, I can be there. I have a spare bedroom, I have a phone that is never switched off. I have plenty of spare mugs, a kettle and enough tea bags to get through the darkest of times. If my friends and loved ones know that there is a safe place for them at my kitchen table, then I am helping. I think that’s an important thing to know. Sometimes just knowing someone is there can be enough to help.
These are your friends. These are your family. What affects them affects you too, so on World Mental Health Day of all the days to do it, make sure you check in with your friends and family, and make sure they know that you’ve got their back if they need it.