Mental Health Awareness Day: Being More Open

Mental Health Awareness Day is such an important day, giving people the opportunity to see the support around them and helping towards its de-stigmatisation but these things should not end because the clock strikes midnight. We need to keep helping people struggling, we need work on identifying when someone needs help, we need better health care for mental health, we need to teach school children how to deal with it, learn how to spot the signs and generally raise awareness.

Last week was the first time I saw an advert about mental health and the importance of knowing you aren't alone as well as supporting the idea of looking out for symptoms from those around you. One thing I loved about it even more than it's amazing message was the situation it featured; male footballers. Mental health is such a difficult topic to discuss generally, and often can be even more difficult for men to discuss due to the irrational theory that men have to be strong all the time and to be strong they can't talk about their feelings or mental wellbeing. By having an advert showing the struggle of a male footballer and the help his teammates provide, it helps break down these stereotypes that make discussion difficult.

With mental illness impacting 1 in 4 people every year, it's a horrible thought knowing so many can't or won't feel able to discuss it with those around them or with doctors who can provide the medical support. The fact that physical illnesses are dealt with so much better than mental illnesses, as well as being taken more seriously, creates a massive problem for those that do reach out for support. Finding the right person can be a challenge but it's worth it when you don't find the right person to help you.
The media doesn't help either, constantly describing (white) criminals (also a whole other issue) as 'mentally ill' or 'unstable' creates an image that people with a mental illness are dangerous which, isn't the case... of course some can be and providing support is essential but some people are just guilty of a crime without any relevance to their mental health. If that wasn't the case, we'd have a serious problem given the large number of people affected by mental health!

I must admit, I am a bit of a hypocrite... I think it's so important to talk about mental health and to be honest with those around you, to get the support you need. I try and talk about mental health on my blog or in videos but I don't talk about it a great deal in real life. From an objective point of view, I suppose I do, I often highlight the importance of mental health and its de-stigmatisation but on a personal level, I clam up.

I find it challenging to be open and honest when I'm not feeling so great. I refuse to tell people I'm struggling but I want them to identify it- I know that's ridiculous because I also want to come across as 'put together' and 'in control' so I don't let these things show. I know how to spot my own signs when things aren't quite right but I don't let others know them if I can help it, so why should I then feel worse because someone isn't noticing and isn't trying to help?
My aim is to be more honest, to tell people when I can feel myself struggling before things get worse than they need to. I shy away from words like 'anxious', 'anxiety' and 'depressed' because I hate the overuse when it doesn't seem quite right but as a result, sometimes I probably don't correctly describe a state or emotion. People shouldn't be labelled and shouldn't be identified simply because of their mental illness but sometimes having that confirmation that there is something wrong and is something that can be done to improve can help.

I'm sure I'm not alone in this and although it will take me a while, working on it and prioritising my wellbeing is something I need to constantly work on. I suggest those that share my thoughts, aim to do the same and perhaps with each other's support, we can be more open both in real life and online.

I'd also like everyone reading this to think about their use of terms relating to mental illness and challenge those around you that don't use it in a particularly correct or positive manner. I know I hear the term 'so OCD' used way too often and flippantly which, is something I try to challenge each time.
I hope this was useful to some people and has highlighted the importance of opening up and supporting those around you. I have done a few posts before about mental health but two I suggest reading if you are struggling with mental health or are supporting someone who is, can be found linked below. Feel free to offer advice or have a bit of a discussion in the comments as I think that would be really useful for both myself and others.

An open letter to mental health sufferers
An open letter: supporting someone with a mental illness
Recent reads: books to check out

If you want to see more posts from me, follow my social media links in the top right-hand corner to see when I next upload. Thank you for reading this post.

Love, Steph x

3 comments

  1. This is wonderful! Sometimes it can be quire difficult to open up about a thing such as mental health, yet it is essential to deal with the issue! I love the honesty!

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  2. This gave me an idea. I want to make a series of YouTube videos highlighting mental health, in something like a commercial style...
    And I also like to speak out about mental health online, but not in real life, because I get ridiculed all the time and told: "it's not fair for you to blah blah blah"...

    https://ariannecruz07.wixsite.com/ayre

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