Today World Mental Health Day. To me, yesterday, tomorrow, next Wednesday and Christmas Day are also Mental Health Days.
Nobody is perfect. I know I’m not. People may say or may think that people are perfect and you can say that about people you do not know. Whoever you are, whatever your circumstances, mental health can affect absolutely anyone. That's exactly what defines mental health as one of the most important health issues of our lifetime. If I see someone with a cast on their leg or arm in a sling I can be pretty confident in knowing what the problem is – what sort of questions to ask them, how to behave around them and many other aspects in interaction seem easy.
You might see someone on crutches on your commute to work and know to give up a seat on the train. But what about someone who has anxiety issues? Someone who has suffered with depression who struggles to get out of bed in the morning? Someone who is who experiences obsessive compulsive disorder and has to carry out illogical rituals to put their mind at ease? First of all, you probably wouldn't be able to pick out these people from a crowd, so how would you know?
1 in 4 people in the UK are hit with mental health problems in their lifetime and these 25% of Brits are not the stereotypes that you see in the media. They are not 'Psycho's' nor are they crazy, insane weird or ANY of the many derogatory labels that are set to define us.
Well, I don't want to be labelled. No one who goes through internal turmoil, pain, frustration, deserves to be stigmatised for things that are beyond their control.
I have gone through times in my lifetime of being down & am often gripped with anxiety and I know in my head that it's irrational, I know it doesn't make sense. But that's what life is. Life is unpredictable, it doesn't always make sense. To get to grips with it is tough and some find it challenging. But I know that I only have one life and I want to make a difference in this world with it. I want to know that when my day finally comes, that the world that I am leaving is in a much better place than it is now, and that I did everything I could to do my little bit.
One day I hope to live in a world where we don't have to have a mental health day. We don't need to be 'raising awareness' because everyone around the world is already aware. One day I hope to live in a world where having a mental health problem means you are treated no differently to someone with a disability; who is treated no differently to someone of a different race; who is treated no differently to someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or asexual. We do not live in a binary world anymore and that is OK!
In 1973, Homosexuality was classed as illegal and a mental health disorder, racist violence on the streets was common and men were earning 45% more than women. Homosexuality was in the International Classification for Diseases until its removal in 1990 – and in the last 10-15 years our eyes have been opened. Year on year the status quo is changing. There is no 'normal', less 'conformity' and the new norm is, well, whatever you want it to be. Now more than ever, we can be whoever you want to be, whatever you want to be and do it in your own way, however you want to do it.
Together, through awareness, through education, through having simple conversations and through the open minds of the current and next generations, the stigma of mental health issues will be a thing of the past. Today of all days, I urge you to start having these conversations, at work, at school, with friends and family, because mental health, for so long an elephant in the room, is now something we can all relate to and should feel comfortable talking about.
Today is World Mental Health Day and I wish everyone a good day. And good mental health!