The Conversation Shouldn’t Stop – Beyond Mental Health Awareness Week, May 201921-May-2019
Year-in year-out, progress is made to talk more openly about the issues that affect mental well-being; areas such as stress, addiction or dependency, bullying, relationships, even life-long conditions are being covered more and more.
The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week was body image: The way we think about and feel about our bodies.
This theme in itself can lead us to prosper and achieve in our work, or in our community.
Unfortunately, it can also lead us to hide.
While body image might be seen as a personal thing, it can often play out into how someone would want to appear, whether in the workplace, amongst our friends or peers, in our community or otherwise.
(And it could be suggested that this is increased through social media and the pressure to look a certain way.)
So why is image so important? How can we bring our whole selves to our play area, our places of work or to the outside world, and be comfortable, even be pleased of who we are?
For some of us defining who we are, what we stand for, and (in some cases) the difference we make can give us purpose or give us meaning.
Being ourselves in whatever environment, whether work or otherwise, would create diversity. But it should also create inclusivity – a state where everyone is accepted. This acceptance can encourage unity, and empowerment; “The stronger our membership, the louder our voice”
This acceptance, as well as trust, can often improve creativity, and it can affect the choices and decisions we make. In some instances this could also affect how we perform and progress within our personal and social journeys.
And this positivity may feel, and should feel, normal. However, mental ill health, in whatever form, can stop some of us from being the person we want to be. This can have a direct affect in a person’s confidence, they could even start to question their ability, especially when presenting themselves to others or interacting with them; they start to feel uncomfortable in their own skin.
It can be at that stage that the difference between being prosperous and the need to hide can suddenly feel real, as it can directly affect our sense of self, and sometimes the image we have strived to create.
Body image can cause low self-esteem, vulnerability and isolation. These emotions are not easily left at home and can come to our social circles or places of work; and it may be difficult to know how to help.
However, most people who suffer are the experts with experience, and they are the ones who should be the lead in knowing how they feel in their condition and what support they need.
But in some instances, the best way to help is simply to listen, to understand and just be comfortable talking about mental health.
Mental Health Awareness Week is the UK's national week to raise awareness of mental health and mental health problems and inspire action to promote the message of good mental health for all.
The Week usually encourages conversation around the occurrence, the treatment and the stigma around various mental health concerns, and this can vary from depression and anxiety to Bipolar or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
But the conversation should not stop.
Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled.
Talking about your feelings is not a sign of weakness; it should be seen as taking charge of your well-being and doing what you can to stay healthy.
You don’t need to sit down with your loved ones for a big conversation about your well-being, as many people can feel comfortable when these conversations develop naturally – maybe if you were on your way to visit somewhere or when you’re doing something together.
What does it feel like inside your head? What does it make you feel like doing?
Talking can be a way of coping with a problem you may have been carrying around in your head for a while; and feeling listened to tends to help you feel more supported.
Granted, it may not always be easy to describe how you feel, and if you can’t think of one word then use lots. It can feel awkward at first so give it time. Make talking about your feelings something that you do.
And it works both ways: If you open up you might encourage others to do the same. So talking about your feelings should not be seen as a weakness, instead be seen as a show of strength!
The Mental Health Foundation is an established Charity that work to help people to thrive and better their well-being through understanding, protecting and sustaining their mental health. They have further information on ways to look after your mental health, they also have contact details for people who need help or advice for their mental health concerns.
Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) also work to provide help and support for mental health concerns by providing training for people to care for their own mental health and others , as well as resources to support our general well-being.
Through awareness of how to care for our well-being and the well-being of others, we can improve the mental health of our society.