This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and I thought it was important to shift my normal blogging content to this topic as discussing mental health is very close to my heart. I believe that mental health should be spoken about freely and without stigma, and sure, it is spoken about a lot more especially in recent years, but it is not without judgement or stigma in some places.
According to Mind, 1 in 4 of us in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year and 1 in 6 of us report a common mental health problem such as anxiety or depression in any given week. Mental health is not uncommon at all, and it is not something that should be treated in a way that talking about it is ‘forbidden’: We should choose to share our experiences and help each other overcome or manage their mental health issues. Let’s be understanding and not make mental health a taboo conversational topic.
I’ve battled with mental health problems myself: at a young age, I was diagnosed with mild anxiety and again, only last year, with severe anxiety. It was a really bad time, but with help, I now know how to manage it a lot better and the severity level gradually decreased. I could go on and on about my journey with mental health (and if anyone has any questions, please feel free to comment or DM me), but I cannot stress enough how important it is to talk things through: with friends, family, and most importantly, a professional. Take this as a sign if you need it now: get help if you feel yourself struggling. Go to your GP and they can refer you somewhere. Talk to someone, anyone about it. Talk to charities with helplines or advice on their websites. Trust me, asking for help makes a world of difference. Asking for help is not a weakness.
Mental health has so many different spectrums and it can be difficult to comprehend this for someone who hasn’t experienced this for themselves. I remember when I had mild anxiety, it was odd to me because everything I had heard about anxiety myself was to do with severe symptoms such as panic attacks. To this day, I’ve thankfully still not had one, but the point is is that everyone deals with mental health differently. At the time, I just told a couple of people and sort of ‘pushed through it’ and accepted it, not really knowing what to do with myself. It may have worked for me then, but anxiety hit me a lot harder in the past few years. I opened up to the people I knew would understand (I’m lucky enough to have a great support system around me) and it’s really true what they say: a problem shared is a problem halved. I now know how to manage my anxiety levels and understand that everyone deals with things differently: I experience anxiety differently to a person next to me with anxiety. And it’s not always about solving the problem, just about handling it in the best way possible.
The theme of this Mental Health Awareness Week is kindness – something that I’ve recently been trying to practice more. Kindness is so important because everyone has their own struggles and stories, so being careful what you say and how you say it is key as you don’t know what that person has been through. This Mental Health Awareness Week, I urge you all to speak your mind and practice kind acts. Kindness is contagious. Kindness can improve your own emotional wellbeing and reduce stress too. I also encourage everyone to share positive messages and check in with yourselves: even if you don’t have any mental health problems but you feel a bit down in the dumps, take some time for yourself. Identify what’s getting you down, whether you can change that, and how to make yourself feel better and act on it. Be kind to yourself and do more of what makes you happy.
I’m going to share some kind acts to try this week and hopefully continue after this week. I’m going to try my best to keep to them, and I hope we can all try to be kind, especially during this time of uncertainty and possible loneliness:
- Send someone an unexpected nice message
- Host a virtual quiz with friends and family
- Donate to a charity of your choice if you can
- Surprise someone with a gift e.g. flowers, some cupcakes etc. (if you can, or if not, even something handmade and/or sentimental)
- Thank people for the little things
- Check up on someone who you know is struggling
- Arrange a virtual catch-up with a friend
- Compliment someone
- Smile at a stranger on your walk
- Write kind and/or positive notes and give them to someone/leave them around the house
- Offer support the vulnerable neighbours
- Practice self-kindness and treat yourself