World Mental Health Day: Why Mental Health Matters
World Mental Health Day, which is today (10 October), was launched in 1992 to promote awareness around mental health conditions and challenge the stigma that surrounds them. In the near-three decades since it started, it’s certainly played a part in the cultural shift in attitudes towards mental health as a whole.
If you’ve been on social media in the past year or so, you’ve probably noticed an increase in stuff – as in articles, videos, tweets, memes – relating to mental health issues. By and large, the goal has been to get people talking about their problems without fear of embarrassment. While opening up about mental health is by no means a cure, it is the first step to more significant progress.
So on this day, of all days, we want to reassure that anyone who feels like they’re struggling is not alone. We’re definitely not experts, but we’ve put together a few facts on why your mental health matters.
It’s More Common Than You Think
According to the mental health charity Mind, one in four people in Britain are affected by mental health problems. These include more common issues like depression and anxiety; as well as rarer problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar.
In the past 25 years, rates of depression among teenagers have drastically increased. Depending on where you look, this is down to exam pressures at school, social media, lack of sleep, lack of prospects – the list is bordering on endless. We’re not saying this to get you down. We’re telling you so when you do feel low, at least you’ll know you’re not alone.
Mental Health in Our Community
The past two years have seen the internet awash with articles about mental health conditions. The vast majority of them encourage the reader to talk openly about their issues, to ‘be brave’ and not feel ashamed. While this advice is commendable, and certainly goes some way to lessen the stigma surrounding mental health, it doesn’t account for the unique experiences of individuals.
In Somali culture, for example, it can be hard to seek help for fear of embarrassing our families or hurting the community. Many of our parents experienced the civil war, and the pressures of fleeing Somalia, finding work in the UK, and the language barrier may mean they never had the chance to discuss how it affected them. This can have a longstanding impact on how the diaspora views mental health.
It’s all well and good to see a video that encourages you to talk about your worries, but doing it for real is another matter.
So How Can You Get Help?
We’d always recommend talking to family about your worries. However, if that doesn’t seem possible then try to speak to an adult you trust or your friends. Even if you don’t broach the subject directly, just talking with your mates can boost your self-esteem and make you feel less vulnerable.
There are even smaller, more practical steps you could take in an effort to lift you mood. We’re not the only website that will suggest you ditch social media for a few hours a day (Twitter beef is not good for your wellbeing), nor are we alone in urging you to not use your phone before bed (the ‘blue light’ from its screen disrupts sleep patterns).
Lastly, if you don’t feel comfortable talking to family and want to speak to someone more qualified – and confidential – to discuss your concerns, we recommend these charities:
MIND: 0300 123 3393.
Samaritans: 116 123.
CALM: Outside London 0808 802 5858, inside London 0800 58 58 58.