On mental health

When was the last time you had the flu? What do you remember about it? You probably missed some work, maybe got some medication. Told your friends you weren’t going out that weekend, that you were going to stay at home and rest up.

After you started feeling ill, it probably didn’t take long for you to recognise you had the flu. And once you realised, you knew how to take care of yourself to get better.

You didn’t stop to worry about what your friends might think if you told them you had the flu. You didn’t wonder how you were going to explain to your boss that you couldn’t work — again.

You didn’t feel like you were the only person you know who’s had the flu. It didn’t make you feel alone, or isolated.

It didn’t make you feel ashamed.

Why, then, is the experience so different for people suffering from mental illness?

This week is mental health awareness week. We all have a part to play in reducing the stigma attached to mental illness, in spreading knowledge about mental health and enabling people who are suffering to get the help they need, free of shame.

I really encourage you to learn more about how to stay mentally healthy, and what you can do to support people in your life struggling with mental illness.

Perhaps start by watching one of my favourite ted talks — Guy Winch talking about the “favouritism we show the body over the mind”, and why we all need to practice emotional first aid.

Follow that up with a visit to the Mental Health Foundation — or perhaps try going outside, meditating, getting together with some friends or doing something kind for someone else.

Lastly - if you think you need help — find help here.