Today marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week 2012.
It’s Dementia Awareness Week too – isn’t that just another sort of mental illness?
Perhaps you are fed up with stories of ‘celebrity bipolar disorder’ and see it as another manipulation of the media by attention hungry stars.
Maybe we should all just pull ourselves together, stop wallowing in self-pity and over-dramatising situations that others just deal with.
After all – all these people on benefits look perfectly healthy don’t they? Some of them even laugh, go out, have friends. Why don’t they get a job?
And why is that bloke in the next office always off sick? Aren’t you stressed too? Perhaps you have shared your suspicions that he is shirking with your mates in Accounts. You can’t understand why he doesn’t just come back to work and face up to his responsibilities instead of heaping his work onto others.
And that chap that shouts and stares outside your local shops, well he is just scary isn’t he? He isn’t angry at not being able to make himself understood, or frightened because he can’t understand himself. He’s just bonkers. He might stab you. Why is he allowed out?
And all those Counsellors – in your Granny’s day they didn’t have counselling did they? She just got on with things. And your Grandad was called up to fight the Germans. Two of his comrades were shot right next to him weren’t they? He didn’t need therapy for combat stress.
And for God’s sake – why do we all have to keep talking about it? Think positive and cheer up. You don’t want to be made miserable by all these other sad buggers do you?
NOW. Listen to yourself. If you can read this and feel affirmation, read it again. And again.
Now tell me that we are all making it up; over-reacting; shirking responsibilities; attention-seeking. Tell me that it isn’t an illness as debilitating and disabling as other, more noticeable conditions.
If you can’t do that, or even question some of your ideas about mental health, then consider your own emotional well-being. Mental illness can, and does strike those who consider themselves least likely to be affected.
Take care of yourself.
- 76% of people feel that others in society are more selfish and materialistic than they were ten years ago
- 67% think that people are less likely to go out of their way to be kind to a stranger compared to ten years ago
The report looks at ‘the evidence-base behind how helping others improves our own mental wellbeing and calls for people to carry out more acts of kindness’.
As someone whose mental health issues have been made worse by a desperate need to please and a desire to make other people happy at any cost, I think that this campaign is better aimed at those who think it could never happen to them…
The photograph at the top of this blog is by artist Nettie Edwards and will be included in the forthcoming publication Dandelions and Bad Hair Days, an anthology of prose and poetry written by those with experience of mental health issues.