Mental Health for all…
So, 10th October marks World Mental Health Day and the theme for this year is ‘Mental Health for all’.
A little bit about me… I was medically discharged from the army because of my mental health issues. I faced a lot of stigma and discrimination when I was first diagnosed and it hurt, I won’t lie. I also had a lot of support around me and I just needed to take that first step to ask for help.
I’m now a second-year mental health nurse on a journey to help support and empower others with mental health issues and I can finally say I feel like I have found where I belong in the world. It’s taken time and a lot of work to get myself to a place where I feel strong enough to help others. Therapy was overwhelming at times and I’ve lost count how many times I’ve changed meds in order to find the right ones for me. However, my family, friends and my mental health team never gave up on me. They helped me see I still had the power to help myself and work towards recovery. I always find recovery an odd concept as it is completely different for everyone. For me, I know I will have relapses. I know some days I’m going to wake up with that sinking feeling in my stomach and panic that I’m going to be poorly again. I know I’m still going to have some very dark thoughts. I know I still struggle with some things my friends take for granted… but it’s ok because I also know I have an amazing support network around me. I also know that I have developed skills to combat that low mood or negative thoughts. I know I have a purpose in life.
When I look back at the experiences I had when I first became ill, I know that those negative responses were due to lack of education and awareness. Even as little as 5 years ago, people didn’t want to talk about mental health or acknowledge mental illness. However, due to campaigns like World Mental Health Day we are increasing awareness and education. People are feeling more comfortable to speak up about their experiences. According to Mind (2019), 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health condition each year in England, and 1 in 6 of us will face a common mental health condition (like depression or anxiety) in any given week. That’s a lot of people. Whilst it’s sad to think how many people are suffering with mental health issues, hopefully these figures will also show how common it is and actually you are not alone and there is no shame in admitting you need extra support.
If you are struggling with things or you know someone you think may be struggling there are little things you can do to help;
- Signpost to charities who provide support services (I’ll include a couple at the end).
- Promote self-care – this can be anything from watching your favourite film to getting outside for a walk to having a chat over a brew. Afterall you can’t pour from an empty cup
- Encourage engagement in positive things – you may not feel up for a walk, or cleaning the house or cooking a meal and that’s ok and ultimately your decision. However, sometimes pushing yourself to do something you know is good for you can help boost your mood and reduce anxiety. It’s ok if you need a little extra support to do these things.
- Focus on things you can control – It’s extremely easy (especially now!) to become overwhelmed over things you cannot control. Another good quote – You can’t stop the storm from coming, but you can control how you prepare for it.
Here the NHS has provided a really good list of support services and charities