We are almost at the end of Mental Health Awareness Week 2018 and as is always the case with any of the days or weeks trying to draw attention to mental health, I am conflicted.
Part of me is all ‘yeah we need more things like this’ and burns with the opportunities they tease me with to help people to understand, to support others like me. I feel like these ‘events’ can make a difference. That I can make a difference.
And herein lies the problem.
Do I make a difference? I feel overwhelmed by it all, wanting too much to make a difference, to be involved. I pile pressure upon pressure on myself and often end up not involving myself in any of it because I want to make that difference and it all feels too much.
Does any of it make a difference? People talk about mental health, write meaningful tweets, post poignant photos on Instagram. There are cries of how things need to change and that more needs to be done. Offers of support and hugs. And it is great. Until the event is over. And then we sink back into being the forgotten, the doubted, the misunderstood.
These days and weeks are fantastic for helping to raise awareness. Don’t get me wrong. I really do believe that this. But they are not enough. Not when things in the real world are like this.
- in the UK, at least 1 in 4 of us will face mental health issues.
- the number of people who self-harm or are driven to suicide is increasing.
- suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45.
- the rate of teenagers with mental health issues is increasing year on year.
- in the UK, mental health issues affect more people than cancer or heart disease do.
- mental health services are underfunded with long waiting times and often lacking specialist services. Little money is given to prevention or research.
So clearly more needs to be done. Talking about mental health and increasing awareness is good. But do you know what is better? Action. And this is something we can all do. From the big people in government to the little people in the street. We need funding. We need support. We need understanding. We need you to listen and try to understand. We need you to mean that offer of help. We can all do our part. All of us. Those with and those without mental health issues.
Because we don’t just live with our mental health issues for a day or a week. We live with them every single day, every single week. And yes, support and words of understanding whilst the spotlight is on can make a difference.
But what about when the spotlight goes out?
Don’t leave us in the darkness.
Image from Pixabay