Tuesday, 10 October 2017

World Mental Health Day

Why I think talking about about mental health is vital. 

October 10th marked World Mental Health Day, as part of Mental Health Week. This year the focus was on mental health in the workplace, and how to mind your mental health at work.  

To start off I think mental health isn't something that we should talk about once a year, I think it's important to talk openly and honestly about all aspects of mental health whenever and wherever the need or want arises. I believe people should be allowed to discuss their mental health on a daily basis and not feel guilty or weird or like they are complaining. Mental health issues will affect all of us at one point or another and it's important to have the vocabulary to talk openly about it, the ability to ask for help and to show compassion when others ask for help, and the ability to get better. 

Personally I think it is super important to have the skills and means to take care of your mental health, and I think these skills should be taught from an early age in schools across the world.  While it is rare for children to suffer from severe mental health issues, it can happen. And learning these skills early on can in fact set them up to be better able to cope in future if mental health complications arrive.  

A friend recently told me that their mental health had been suffering lately, and it had been hard on them to try and be normal around their siblings.  But when their siblings informed them that they had been learning about mental health and how to maintain positive mental health in school, it made it easier to talk to them about it.  

I think having mental health classes in schools is honestly one of the most important things we can be teaching our children today.  Training children and adolescents in mindfulness and relaxation techniques, will greatly benefit them not only at the time, but also in the future.  Personally I think we can do so much more to teach kids today how to cope with mental illness, and inform them how to deal with others around them who are coping with mental illness. 

While the stigma around mental illness is dissipating, there is still a lot of uncertainty around many different areas of mental health.  From how to support a friend or family member suffering from depression and anxiety, to being informed and aware of illnesses such as schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder, and how to manage them.  

By offering these classes to young people, it can really open up the discussion around mental health. It can give them the tools they need now and in the future, from spotting when a loved one may be suffering from a mental health issue, to how to support them during those tough times.  It can also show young people that they are not alone in the way they feel, and that it is not their fault, and also teach them how to empathise with others who are suffering.  

If more schools and workplaces take on an initiative of teaching and informing students and staff about mental illness, about the supports out there, and about ways to cope, the future may not be so grim for many people.  

I for sure know that when I was in school, having these kinds of classes would have greatly improved my time in school, as I suffered a lot with my mental health throughout adolescence. While now for the most part I have learned how to cope and deal with these issues when they arise, Ive been through many dark phases and ups and downs.  Had I been given the tools at a younger age, who knows that it might not have gotten to such points. 

I can distinctly remember attending a talk about introducing mindfulness classes into a primary school once during my time in college. And some of the parents there didn't seem to think that it necessary to teach this to primary aged children.  I disagree however, the earlier the better in my opinion.  By giving young children the means to understand their emotions, and offering tools to cope with and counter-act them, you are giving them valuable life skills. 

I think we should be encouraging others to speak up about their mental health, and not just for one day a year, but all days every year! Imagine how much better the world we live in could be if we taught children from a young age that it's okay not to feel okay? Imagine a world filled with compassionate and empathetic individuals, who not only can deal with their own mental health issues, but support others through theirs? 

That's the kind of world I want to live in, and the world I want to see the future generation grow up in.  It's as simple as giving them the tools they need to understand how mental health works, and it could make a huge difference.

Again this is all just in my opinion, and this post may be a bit rambling, but this day crept up on me and I couldn't let it pass without saying something.  As always I hope you enjoyed this, and I hope this may have helped some people understand better the importance of promoting positive mental health. 

If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental illness,  or is at risk of suicide or self-harm here are a few places that offer help and support.  Stay safe and don't be afraid to ask for help, if one person doesn't listen keep looking until someone does. You are worth it.

Until the next time, take care of your selves

MK xo

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