Mental Health: Here’s a five-minute overview.
Just kidding – there’s no way I could cram into five minutes the complexities, depths and ever-evolving enlightenments of mental health.
Still, there are those who declare mental health is not that big a deal, gets way too much attention, and is grossly exaggerated by those who are thus challenged.
It must be nice to sail on a cruise ship and scoff at those who got issued dinky little life buoys.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month (well, it was May when I started writing this. Helloooo mental health issues).
Which means a lot of people are going to be talking about the topic, injecting an extra squirt of empathy into their interactions, or asking their managers to consider incorporating “fresh air lunch walks” into the office routine.
And a lot of people will dismiss it with a single wave and a half-hearted nod to “the crazies”.
That would be me.
And maybe you. Or your neighbour. Or your best friend. Who knows?
2020 wasn’t exactly the year of peace and calm, and due to its generic invisibility, mental health is not really a struggle that is easily picked up by others.
“Nearly half the population will meet the criteria for a mental illness diagnosis at some stage during their lives, and one in five of us will experience depression in any given year.” (wellplace.nz)
Which is why it’s important to talk about it.
Not obsess over it, or use it as an excuse to act like a jerk, but openly and empathetically talk about it. No matter which side of the spectrum you stand on.
Unfortunately, a five-minute article is not much better than a five-minute conversation, but the least I can do is provide a few thinking points, a few linking points, and even some ways to combat the sinking points.
So here come the thinking points:
If you have the privileged use of two strong legs, you have no say in why the car crash victim took three years to walk again.
If you don’t have much experience with or exposure to mental health struggles, consider finding a way to broaden your perspective.
If you think others talk about Mental Health too much, either politely bow out of the conversation or stick around to find out why.
If you think Mental Health is irrelevant, keep that thought to yourself. Remember what happened to Tinkerbell in Never Never Land when people stopped believing in her. (We suck.) Also remember that she was quite literally cheered back to life by people. (We don’t have to suck.)
As promised, for those who are keen, here are a few linking points:
TWLOHA (To Write Love On Her Arms) - a nonprofit movement
Beauty After Bruises – educating the public and resourcing the survivors
Just a Thought – a free online course for generalised anxiety
Mental Health Foundation NZ – a charity focused on positive mental wellbeing
And when you need to rise up from those sinking points, remember this:
You always matter.
Not sporting a cast and crutches, or having a super cool scar to show off, definitely makes it harder to find support and understanding. But there are those out there who do get it – whether or not they live it – and they 1000% have your back.
So do a little self care, and talk openly with those you can trust, and never apologise for carrying life a little heavier sometimes.
Your mental health matters, and so do you.
Emma is an Italian-South African with a New Zealand passport and an international heart. She spent years training student choirs and co-running a puppeteering business, before working for a humanitarian organisation in New Zealand (7 years) and Papua New Guinea (3 years). Currently a nomad living between various countries and towns, Emma's deep joy is in writing, music, cooking up an Italian storm, and taking time to listen to people’s stories.
Read Emma's creative expressions at http://www.girlkaleidoscope.wordpress.com or https://pngponderings.wordpress.com/2016/09/02/finding-the-beauty/
Emma’s previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/emma-mcgeorge.html