Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation. The push for Mental Health awareness is a brilliant thing and something I applaud and encourage although I started to notice a rather disheartening theme as I scrolled through social media. More and more posts seemed to be popping up with people speaking about their anxiety, how they’ve grown to live with it, how it has become a part of them. More and more people accepting anxiety into their lives like an unwanted friend that always turns up to the party but for some reason you don’t kick out.
I think it is brilliant that we are opening up about our mental health issues, anxiety, depression, OCD, eating disorders… we have all suffered or known someone who has suffered in our lifetimes. Mental illness isn’t just for the ‘insane’ or ‘mad’ population anymore, it’s more widely accepted as something that should be spoken about and treated properly. But with this positive awareness campaign comes something rather less positive. As with most social media campaigns it has attracted a sort of need for involvement. A desire to be ‘part of the gang’. More and more people discussing their anxiety as though it were a trophy, something to wear with pride. It’s as though people have accepted anxiety into their homes, offices jobs and into their lives and often not seeked help to rid themselves of it. It is devastating to know that so many people suffer terribly from this mental health problem but do not realise it is something which can be helped so easily. If you broke your leg, would you hobble to work each day accepting that this broken leg were just part of who you were now? If you caught malaria would you joke about ‘me and my malaria’ getting along day to day? I don’t know about you, but I would get straight to a doctor to get it fixed, to rid myself of the illness or disease and move on with my life.
With mental health, it seems as though we often wait until we crack before seeking help, we would not do the same with our physical health. Anxiety isn’t something we must live with, it’s something we should acknowledge and then deal with.
Let’s turn the conversation about mental health into a positive one.