It should be mental health week, every week. Why just a few awareness weeks scattered here and there, like throw cushions? If we want to stop the stigma we might have to think about it longer than seven days.
On an individual level, things have progressed, I'm happy to report. People are being more open about mental illness. Certainly in the theatres where I perform "Frazzled," you can tell the climate has changed because in second half of the show, when the audience do the talking, I have to turn out the lights to shut everyone up.
They're not just being brave, they're almost proud to say aloud (probably for the first time) that they find life hard and that the answer to, "How are you?" might not be "Fine". Others aren't just stressed, they've actually got a mental disorder and they too just proudly stand up and - without fear of being decimated - say things like, "Hi my names Jenny. I've had bi-polar for ten years and right now I'm on a high so someone hold me down." Then someone else might stand up and say, "Hi Jenny, I'm Robert, I've got OCD, I can help you clean your house." If that's not freedom of speech I don't know what is?
Individuals are breaking the stigma by breaking their silence but what's happening politically remains a mystery. Here's where I'm confused, I know during mental health week, just a few months ago, Paul Farmer CEO of Mind made a statement that the £600 million pounds per year pledged by the government to support mental health, wasn't enough. During that week, every news channel was filled with reports about the need for parity between physical and mental illness and that more funds are needed to cover mental health in the NHS, David Cameron was televised saying he agreed there had to be changes in the allocation of funds.
However, as soon as mental health week finished, the reports finished. The next day a fresh crisis was smeared across our screens and because we have the attention span of a nit, no one said a thing. Maybe the media think that if they stay on one topic too long, people will stop watching and grow despondent. If you keep the panic fresh with something else terrifying to think about then you've got everyone glued to the box.
They know we need more and more hits of hysteria because they know how addicted we are and they know that they can provide us with the fix. So, just a few hours after the dust settles from a 7.9 earthquake, they switch our focus to a new virus on the loose. And if they run out of murder victims they can always show us the latest from Syria; that will get you panicking pretty quickly.
As terrible as the world is, if we keep our attention off the button of de-stigmatization, we'll never get anywhere and those in this country who are suffering from a mental emergency won't get any help. I've heard too many stories about someone not finding a hospital, even on the verge of suicide. If they had a heart attack they'd be in a bed in hours. If we don't hear about an improvement with mental health support soon, I'm going to suggest we take to the streets and march to Downing Street because I'm getting sick of these promises followed by nothing. We can't just be mad - we have to get mad. That's my new slogan. Don't just be mad, get mad! What do you think? Print that on a t-shirt and run it up the flagpole.
Ruby is touring the UK with her new show #Frazzled - find out where you can see her on this follow up to her sell out Sane New World show.
You can also buy Ruby's best selling latest book, A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled, in all good bookshops and online.
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