For such a long time I have campaigned for mental health, having had a relationship with anti-depressants since my early teenage years. Back then I would have thought a World Mental Health Day was wonderful, and the fact that I’ll be talking about it on the radio would have been overwhelming. Now I feel like we need to acknowledge that we all have mental health, just like physical health and as a society we need to work with people to improve that.
Yes there are people who have severe mental illnesses, I for one suffer with Borderline Personality Disorder and Generalised Anxiety. There are a range of conditions on the spectrum from depression, to schizophrenia, bipolar, OCD and so many others. This is a battle that is a long way from being won, with treatment times out of control, and overworked and under resources NHS and medications ever increasing in cost, these are issues that will take time. I used to think this was my biggest battle, and personally it is. I long to be at the end of the waiting list for my DBT, but there is still up to 18 months to go on the two-year wait. But the part we can all play, is overall well being and increasing everyone’s mental health.
You see, society, I believe each role, each person, workplace, charity, school, government has the opportunity to impact just one person’s life. That cup of tea you offer, that open ear, the gentle text or hug could make the world of difference. There are activities we can be doing every day, starting within schools to build bridges within communities to allow people to always have a buddy, a friend and reduce the loneliness that so often can lead to mental health deterioration. The neighbour that we can look out for because they have no family, the person who is unable to work through illness, the child at school who has conditions such as ADHD, dyspraxia and other disabilities which mean they need out understanding and support. If we are always denying our responsibility, saying it is someone else’s problem, we will never find the answer. We need to come together.
Having a friend, having someone who is on your side is something we can all do for someone, and on World Mental Health Day, if you take anything away take that. What can you do or change in your workplace or school, in your community that would impact those who are often most vulnerable and lonely in our society. The answer to increasing well being and mental health will come not only from policy change in the house of commons, not only in the curriculum at school or college, but in the way we all relate to each other, the way we interact and support each other.