I am not one for statistics however I would be willing to put money on the fact that either you or someone you know is currently suffering from some sort of mental health issue. We are bombarded with examples of how we should be embracing mindfulness, ways we can use to de-stress and shocking figures of just how much our physical heath can be affected by our mental health.
So why then do so many of us still seem to be suffering? What is it about the world we live in today that causes so much stress that so many of us are depressed, suffering with anxiety issues, personality disorders, eating disorders, sleep disorders and a number of other issues all involving our mental health.
The classic answer seems to be that it's modern life, the internet, money, politics, unemployment, terrorism, social pressure and humans being more aware of their psychological health that is to blame. However I have some reservations about this, please don't get me wrong I believe that we judge ourselves far too much on what everyone else is doing and how because we see it every day on social media and the television and that this can cause havoc with your opinion of yourself and therefore negatively affect your mental health. But I can't believe that our ancestors didn't go through trials and tribulations relevant at that time in their lives that will have also caused many of the afflictions we suffer with today,
I wonder whether we now view mental health in the way that we do due to our business being so available to everyone else. In the past what went on in a family home was largely that and it was very rare that anyone would get much of an insight into a marriage, family dynamic or how a home was run. Today this is public with us living much of our lives online and people being able to know us or our public persona in a much more intimate way. For some of course that is wonderful and has created a kind of career and celebrity that we can watch as flies on the wall. Others find this thought awful, that people we don't even know can form opinions on how we live our lives and our decision making processes.
The trouble with this ever available world is that we can't always trust what we see with our own eyes, the body shapes we aspire to aren't real, they are often subject to photoshopping and who wouldn't get depressed at striving to attain what is ultimately unattainable. The people we want to be like have a team of people who make them who the are, stylists, cleaners, life coaches, PR Guru's, accountants, nutritionists, chefs (I could go on!) Who wouldn't be able to achieve everything with an expert team behind them! We as 'normal' people will never have this and are expected to muddle through on our own.
We can see all the horrible things that go on in the world from the comfort of our living rooms and the television. In days gone by you could be blissfully unaware and wouldn't have to see the atrocities we do just by watching the evening news. We cannot shield our children in the way that we were from these things so from a young age the magic and innocence of the world is lost and this can have a profound effect on our mindset.
As a youth mentor I speak to a number of teenagers about various different issues that affect them either at school or at home. I deal with a many complex issues including anger, breakdown of families, body issues, confidence issues and financial worries. These are teenagers, children who should be embracing education and looking forward to their futures with excitement and they are often worrying about things like not being able to get a mortgage, whether they can travel abroad for a gap year and be safe and if the way they dress is okay with all the people around them.
There is more help available for those of us who do suffer with our mental health in some way and this is growing as the demand is in most areas of the world however it is still viewed as one of the more taboo subjects and one which we are the least likely to confide in another about even though we are at breaking point. We see countless adverts for well deserving charities every day and yet mental health seems to take a back burner in these times of considerable need. I wonder whether people would be so comfortable donating money and campaigning for more mental health nurses?
I don't know the answer, I know my own issues and those of some people who are close to me. I do not believe that mental health is a new thing, I imagine the struggles we have could easily be found in counterparts in years gone by I just wonder whether we are finding it harder to deal with it, more concerned about showing our weaker side or not knowing where to go for help.
How do you measure your mental health and what do you do to maintain it? I would be very interested to hear your thoughts and opinions. You can contact me and read more of my work here.