With Sunday being Mental Health Awareness Day, now seemed as good a time as any.
Anything to raise awareness about mental health is important and I do welcome days like "Mental Health Awareness Day" - but it can't be allowed to be a day where companies, organisations, brands even, think they can pay lip service to it for a day and then forget all about it for the rest of the year. The mental health conversation and the support required need to be ever-present.
Again, although well-intentioned, Instagram posts… and regurgitated quotes on LinkedIn aren’t enough in themselves. People struggling with their mental health need proper support and understanding and most importantly recognition from their employers and peers that everyone suffers from mental health issues in some form, at some time. It doesn’t make someone worse at their job… or anti-social or a “liability.”
I’m not afraid to say (except I still am) that I have had my problems with mental health over the years… anxiety, lack of confidence, low mood, feelings of worthlessness. Some of it is inherent in me and I have to manage on an ongoing basis, other times stuff is brought on by situation and circumstance. Relationships, money worries, bereavement - things we all go through. But these feelings don’t define me or my ability, my creativity, intelligence, skill or ability to enjoy things.
I honestly believe that everyone has struggled with their mental health at some point, whether they realise it or not. But there are undoubtedly levels and some people are lucky enough to breeze through things the majority of the time.
All I would say to those people is to be understanding of your friends, colleagues, relatives who aren’t as lucky as you are. But also don’t be afraid to recognise when you are struggling yourself.
I can only speak from the perspective of being a bloke and I don’t think mental health sees gender, class, wealth or anything else, it can come at anyone. But there is no doubt that men perhaps struggle differently, or don’t feel they can get help. It is hard to comprehend that Male suicide rates were the highest for two decades in 2019. And the attitude of men… and indeed everyone about how men should cope with what goes on in their head, is what made me want to write this piece.
However, I say again - mental health is agnostic. It doesn’t care where you’re from, how you were brought up, your job, how much you earn. It is indiscriminate in its destructiveness.
I hope that by writing honestly about the subject, I might make a positive impact, however small.
And my advice, for what it's worth…
End the Stigma.
Some places to find help and that I have found useful:
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