World Mental Health Day? What's that all about then?
That's a good question. It's all over social media at the moment, with lots of hashtags and various images (some of which I'll be sharing on my Facebook page over the next few days.)
I do think it's a really good idea that we have different awareness raising days/months. It can help increase conversations about the topic and promote charities and organisations that support people. I definitely think that there is more understanding of mental health and less stigma attached to it.
But there's a few things I want to unpack...
Just like the phrase 'A dog isn't just for Christmas', Mental Health support isn't just about a day. It's so important to make the resources available really embedded in our society and not just a tick box exercise, which for example an employer can sign off on whilst maybe putting pressure on an employee who is struggling with their mental health.
There are some uncomfortable headlines around mental health topics. Sometimes we see uplifting stories or amazing fundraising events - all of which are great. But becoming more aware of mental health means becoming more aware of really sad statistics around suicide rates, the high rates of younger people who are struggling and the fact that there are socio-economic issues which have a huge impact upon our well-being.
The theme of WMHD 2021 is 'Mental Health in an unequal world' which really brings it home that other factors need to be addressed. It can make for uncomfortable conversations but we really need to have those to help create change in our society. We need to acknowledge that more men end their lives by suicide, if you are poor your life expectancy is reduced, black people are more likely to be sectioned and if you're in the LGBTQ+ community , there are higher rates of suicidal behaviour and self-harm. That's not right and we need to work together to change this.
And whoever and wherever you are, I'd like to encourage you to spend a bit of time thinking about what is good for your mental health. It's going to be different for everybody - some people go for a walk or run, someone else might want to meet up with a friend, some people work with counsellors and other therapists, do voluntary work, have a brew...But take some time to do it - your mental health is so important.