Every day seems to be a day to celebrate something. Today, for example, is World Mental Health Day. (Today also happens to be Saturday, a fact that is always worthy of acknowledgement. Unless you work Saturdays. Sorry.)
Even as I hit share on Time To Change’s Facebook post about ending Mental Health discrimination, there was some anxiety in the back of mind (the irony of which is not lost on me) about how necessary it was. Because more and more people are aware of mental health, right? Discrimination is ending, right?
I think the answer is yes. Budgets for mental health are being discussed in the media, there are tons of websites with information and my experience in both the UK and Germany suggests that this is taken extremely seriously by the medical profession. But I think it’s still more of a yes, but than a resounding, write with an exclamation mark, yes!
So, despite the fact that we are overloaded with it’s world something or other day and the inevitability that their effectiveness is diluted by the shear volume of them, I will be acknowledging and celebrating World Mental Health Day because, until we can talk about mental health in the same way as we would the flu or a broken leg, there is still work to be done.
I will be celebrating World Mental Health day because the other day I cycled back to work to check I’d turned something off. Instead of being laughed at, as I feared, as I always fear, my colleague was incredibly understanding. That should be everyone’s experience in similar situations.
I will be celebrating World Mental Health day because when I told someone recently that I’d been using my experiences to try and write a short fiction about mental health, they said it was a great idea. That should be everyone’s experience in similar situations.
I will be celebrating World Mental Health day because, when I was working in England, and needed to get to a counselling appointment, my employer let me adapt my working hours to get there. That should be everyone’s experience in similar situations.
I will be celebrating World Mental Health day because, every time I’ve put myself out there and mentioned some of the common, everyday, but unpleasant experiences I’ve had, someone has reached out and said they had no idea and they were grateful because they could relate. They could relate because those experiences were their experiences. That should be everyone’s experience in similar situations.
Mental health doesn’t rule my life. A lot of the time, what’s making me sad or frustrated has nothing to do with mental health problems, and, like everyone, I need to suck it up and get on with it. But at times, something inside that I don’t understand poisons all the joy and weakens me. And when that happens, I, like everyone else, deserve the right to stand up and ask for help – just like someone with a headache asks for an aspirin, just like someone with a fracture gets a cast. And we deserve the respect to stand up without the fear it will be held against us in the future.