If you’ve ever heard the term ‘mental health’ and thought this isn’t for me, you may just want to keep reading.
While the language around mental health and mental illness has existed for decades, the conversation itself has become far more open and relevant to all (and rightly so). Mind, the UK’s leading mental health charity summarises it concisely by saying “mental health can affect anyone any day of the year”.
While there is a World ‘Day’ for almost everything, today – World Mental Health Day – feels particularly significant and worthy of attention.
- Mental health problems are one of the main causes of disease burden worldwide.
- In the UK approximately one in four people will experience a mental health problem each year.
- And one in six report experiencing one of the most common problems, such as anxiety and depression, in any given week.
Days like today at the very least, bring global attention to an important conversation and provide an opportunity for people to share and speak up more publicly about their own experiences.
In our increasingly online and social media-filled world, the necessity for people to hear the raw truth of what is really going on has become somewhat of a lifeline. Humans need to create meaning around their experiences to make sense of their lives and stories enable us to do so.
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I think there’s a misnomer we’ve created in our own minds that to ‘deserve’ support you must be really depressed. Or that ‘mental health’ must only be for those clinically ill or suffering really badly.
When we are able to experience others’ vulnerability, when their ‘masks’ are removed, we get to feel far more connected too. The shame we might hold around what we’re really experiencing gets exposed. And as Brene Brown, a global researcher on shame and fear says, shame can’t survive being spoken about.
Plus when others share that ultimately, behind the scenes there are both up and down days, it reiterates that we really are all simply human. Doing the best we can.
And so the conversation has started.
Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed numerous accounts of ‘successful’ people and business owners sharing their personal tales of struggle, depression, heartaches, and pains as part of their contribution to World Mental Health Day. On their own accord, not because someone told them to do so.
Amy Porterfield, an online marketing expert and trainer who has built a multi-million dollar business, and used to work for the world’s most renowned peak performance coach, Tony Robbins, opened up recently in her podcast with another entrepreneurial friend:
“I have definitely, definitely struggled with depression.” Amy Porterfield
In the podcast Amy and her guest Jasmine Star (another successful entrepreneur) also discuss the distinction between situational and clinicaldepression, acknowledging that most of us will experience situational depression to some degree in our lives.
“Everybody has bad days or a series of bad things that happen.” Jasmine Star
And given that knowledge, why wouldn’t we want to treat our mental health with the same level of respect we give our physical health? Just as easily as you may sign up to a new bootcamp challenge, how eagerly do you give attention to your own mental health?
To this day there are practices and support Amy continues to draw on regularly to maintain and improve her health.
Amy says that “Mental health issues can be uncomfortable to talk about, but that needs to change.”
Maybe you used to see mental health as not relevant to me. My wish would be that days like today help to normalise mental health, and help people globally feel ‘more human’. To know that it’s okay if there are tough times and that it’s also okay to reach out for support.
Maybe today is about the recognition that you have the power to create an environment for your own personal mental health that feels healthy, sustainable and fulfilling – just as much as you would do with your physical health. And to feel more okay to start a conversation about it.