“And if today, all you did was hold yourself together, I’m proud of you.”
Thank you for joining me for my series of posts to raise awareness and explore all aspects of mental health for Mental Health Month.
‘Mental Health’ is a term we use a lot these days. Sometimes it is thrown around without much thought at times and, it would seem that even in 2021, there is still more work to be done to remove the stigma and negative connotations that come along with it.
Everyone has mental health, it is the well-being of our emotional, psychological and social state. It affects how we feel, act and think. It can determine how we handle stressful and challenging situations, how we make choices and even how we relate to others. Having good mental health helps you maintain a relatively happier and healthier life, it can help you overcome life’s adversities and demonstrate resilience, which I talked about earlier in this series in my post Let’s Take a Moment for Resilience.
With our mental health being just as, if not sometimes more, important to look after as our physical health, it amazes me that so many still feel shame and embarrassment when talking about mental health. It’s as simple as this; If you had a concern about your physical health you would ask a medically trained professional for help and advice with it and do what you can to heal that issue. Mental health is absolutely no different, psychologists, counsellors and mental health practitioners are all there to help you mentally heal and recover as much as a surgeon, nurse, midwife or doctor.
There is no shame in having to ask for help in regards to mental health.
1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health related problem of some kind each year with 1 in 6 people reporting a common problem, such as anxiety or depression, in any given week.
Since 1993, the amount of people with common mental health problems has gone up by 20% in both men and women. The percentage of people reporting severe mental health issues has gone up 2% from seven to nine percent.
The facts show that it is becoming more common and yet, even in today’s society there’s still those people who feel the need to have a “Just snap out of it” mentality, so there’s no surprise that 2 out of 3 people living with mental health problems still suffer in silence.
Every week in the UK the amount of people getting specific diagnosis is far less than expected in comparison to the rise in mental health problems.
8 in 100 people are diagnosed with mixed anxiety and depression.
6 in 100 people are diagnosed with GAD – Generalised Anxiety Disorder.
4 in 100 people are diagnosed with PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
3 in 100 people are diagnosed with depression.
1 in 100 people are diagnosed with OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
I think with a lot of things in life, it definitely comes down to the old adage “Ignorance is bliss” when dealing with mental health. It is definitely a subject that still makes people feel uncomfortable at times as it invokes feelings in themselves that may be hard for them to handle. People of older generations were born and raised in a very different social manner and it is easier for them to be a little flippant in their dealings with bigger issues like mental health. They are of the generations that are still very much in the mind set of “boys don’t cry” and “stiff upper lip”. The issues then come in as, like everything does, the world has changed and as much as you can’t change someone else, I think life would be easier if everyone was more open to constantly growing and learning about the tougher and bigger issues and having more awareness about them. It is also worth remembering that the people who have these outlooks were born and raised that way and have raised others of the same mentality. So even the generation they raised feel differently, it can be difficult to say so and to be more open. It is worth remembering however that there are people who were raised in a time where many of the factors that impact mental health today, weren’t around. The research and medical knowledge behind anxiety, depression, post-partum depression, neurodiversity and other serious mental disorders is far superior now than they would’ve been then.
There is a lot of progression going on in our world today in many areas to become more tolerant, safe and accepting society however there is definitely still a lot of work to be done for many. This is most definitely prevalent in the LGBTIQ+ and Black communities and the impact of this on mental health in these communities is shown in research in figures.
People who identify as part of the LGBTIQ+ community are between 2-3 times more likely than heterosexual people to report having a mental health problem in the UK.
23% of Black or Black British people will experience common mental health problems in any given week. This compares to 17% of White British people.
26% of Young women aged 16-24 report having a common mental health problem in any given week. This compares to 17% of women aged over 25.
For these groups there is a higher risk of mental health problems linked to many factors including:
- Facing social injustice, inequality and disadvantages.
- Facing discrimination and social exclusion.
- Going through traumatic experiences.
- Differences in physical health.
It is important to state however that your identity does not give you mental health problems.
There is a very sinister part of these figures and that is that there has been a clear rise in numbers since 2018 of men and people under 25 who take their own lives.
Staggeringly, the number of people who report self-harm, more than doubled between the year 2000-2014 and rose to 62%.
People reporting having had suicidal thoughts in past years from 2014 went up by 30%.
The number of people self-harming or having suicidal thoughts is rising faster than the number of people experiencing mental health problems overall. This many show that people are finding it harder to cope with mental health problems and the factors behind them.
Sadly, this doesn’t at all surprise me. We live in a world where we are constantly thrown toxicity and judgement. It is easier than ever for people to be abusive, insensitive and bully others online and to capture embarrassing or torturous experiences and broadcast to a ‘viral’ status. We are constantly exposed to photoshopped, airbrushed and heavily filtered images on social media of unattainable perfection and told that if you aren’t within certain moulds and brackets then you aren’t ‘worthy’ or ‘beautiful’. The pressure and poisonous behaviour by social media are disgusting and worst of all, it’s addictive.
How many times have you found yourself aimlessly scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram feed? Taking hit after hit because everyone else seems to be coping better than you, people have forgotten to include you in a post about ‘best friends’ or are somewhere where you yet again haven’t been invited to. Someone is sure to be posting about their achievements in losing weight, someone else is showing a disgusting amount of venom in a response to something so trivia, and yet we do it day after day, even multiple times a day just because it’s become a habit. It’s convenient and easy to access. It’s the easiest and most lacklustre way of keeping up with people, some of those people you don’t even care about what they are doing or saying but still have them there because you used to be friends in high school. How many relationships have broken down because of something that was posted on social media? How many families now have bigger rifts because social media has given a platform to publicly air disagreements or given an excuse for someone to use the grudge they harbour and jump on the first thing post doesn’t seem appealing to them. It is a pit of despair for effective communication as someone who could be commenting with concern can be told they are ‘butting their nose in’ someone’s life – yet – that person has made their life public for all to comment freely. People also forget that what they are seeing on social media is only a fraction of a person and their lives. It is few and far between that you will get people who are giving you a glimpse of their authentic selves and lives.
Like my Granny said; “I’d rather be a ‘black sheep’ when the white sheep aren’t as white as they seem”.
I personally have recently broken up with social media for my personal life and already I have felt tremendous effects of doing this. I feel a lot less disconnected from my life, I am able to enjoy conversations with my husband or my boys without distraction and I am present. I am noticing how much more positive and productive I am during the day. I am feeling less pressure than I have for a long time and I’m even starting to hear my voice, thoughts and opinions again rather than their muffled tones in between everything else I have I taken in and the worries of other people. I am slowly but surely starting to live life on my own terms and not being dictated by ‘Should be’.
There are many amazing companies, charities and people who are trying to change the negative vibes of social media and use their platform to spread awareness, to help people manage their mental health and campaign for acceptance. I am in no way affiliated with any of the companies, charities or influencers I mention and I am going only on personal experience and knowledge of them.
Spiffy The Happiness Shop is one of my go to companies for helping not just myself maintain my mental health but also my sons, especially my eldest boy who has ‘high functioning autism’ – to read more about this go to my blog post. They provide lots of amazing and different products to put in your ‘mental health tool box’ and cover a varied range whether you need help with anxiety, stress management, mindfulness, encouragement and affirmations and many more. Their range for kids is really fantastic as it’s never too early to teach good habits and self-care and I found journals for my eldest son which also allow for bonding time together too.
Born Anxious is an innovative home-grown clothing label. Their main objectives are clothing that is as comfortable as possible while being plant friendly and spreading awareness for autism and give important information for the child and care giver. One thing I love about the clothing is the removing of labels, this is a big thing in my house for Macen and my husband Dan, they can’t stand the feel of clothing labels. Macen also loves how soft and comfortable the t-shirts I’ve gotten him have been to a point we have had to make sure it is washed and dried in the same day so he can wear it again. The messages on the clothing are really helpful and are a great way to help gain acceptance and understanding of autism.
Born Anxious have a range of clothing that they did in collaboration with one of my favourite people I originally found on Instagram, Amy Steele the creator behind One Tuff Muvva. Amy is a mother, mental health advocate, business owner, designer at Funky Pigeon and an amazing fighter and survivor of severe PND and PMDD. I love following Amy and supporting her business as she is genuine and you can see how much it all means to her. Her positive words, sharing of her personal journey and help for mental health is really inspiring and she is definitely someone you should follow on social media platforms.
If you aren’t familiar with the name Kat Williams then I urge you to click the links given. I first found Kat almost 9 years ago now when researching for my wedding day as she is the creator and owner of Rock n Roll Bride. Through hard work and perseverance, Kat has now grown an amazing empire of empowerment for people all over the world. She has taken her blog from strength to strength to now having 38 successful issues of Rock n Roll Bride Magazine. She is an Amazon ‘no1 Best Seller ‘and host The Confidence Club Podcast. Kat recently announced an exciting new collaboration project called Cancel Couture, clothing to turn hate on its head. Kat also isn’t afraid to share her personal experiences and her truth on her social platforms and I think it’s so important to acknowledge this, she is a prime of example of a badass women who never gives up no matter what life throws at her.
Earlier in this post I said that women, particularly those under 25 are in a higher risk category of mental health problems and I think it’s really important to show female empowerment and speak out for sisterhood. The Spark Company are hands down one of my favourite clothing companies who do just that as well as giving a voice to the LGBTIQ+ community. Not only is the clothing eco-friendly and ethically made in a good range of sizes but the company was founded and is run by females who are also about action and donate part of their profits to Bloody Good Period and ATK charities. I highly recommend this company and they are always good to have on your social media feed too.
Katt May Finch is an inspiring ‘Mom Boss’, the founder and creator of Badass Mums Club and co-founder of Badass Beauty UK. Katt’s unique designs and clothing spread positive vibes and colour on all aspects of mental health as well as other important issues regarding our planet. As someone who is a proud member of The Badass Mum Club, I love supporting Katt in her business as well as having clothing that is quirky and makes me smile while being comfortable. Katt is another woman who is out there telling her truth about mum life and mental health while still inspiring others to be unapologetically themselves.
For anyone who is struggling with mental health problems or if you are someone who is worried about a friend or relative’s mental health, there are so many charities who are able to give more information and make sure you get support. Some of these charities even have helplines if you need to talk to someone.
- Mental Health UK
- Rethink Mental Illness
- CALM – For men between 15 and 45 as this is the group most affected by Male suicide.
- Beat – Specifically designed for anyone with an eating disorder.
- Mental Health Foundation
- Nightline Association – For students run by students
- The Mix – Essential support for the under 25’s
I would always encourage anyone to contact their GP and talk to them if they are worried about their own or someone else’s mental health. If you are in school, please do also turn to any educator or teaching assistant for help. Many more employers are trying to be more aware and provide help and acceptance when it comes to mental health problems also but there is still a way to go in that area. It is always worth being open and honest with your employer if you are struggling.
As someone who has battled her own mental health problems for many years and in many different ways, I want to extend a hand to anyone who is struggling with their mental health. You are welcome to contact me on any of the methods provided. I know it’s hard when you are in the deepest, darkest corners of your mind and you think hiding away is the best thing to do, putting on your ‘brave face’ and being ready to answer with “I’m fine”. There are times when you feel exhausted and just don’t have the energy to have a conversation even though you don’t want to feel alone, you miss people but don’t want to reach out to them because your head tells you 500 reasons why you’re not worth doing so. Don’t listen to everything your head tells you. Depression and anxiety can tell you things that simply aren’t true. Dark days happen but that doesn’t mean that with the right help you can’t have the beautiful and bright life you deserve. Today might not be a good day, the next week may be tough but hold on, reach out and remember you are valid. Your feelings are valid. You are enough. You are a warrior, because there is nothing scarier than having to battle your mind and face your demons every single day. Please be kind to everyone you meet, you never know what people are going through and you never know the difference simply saying ‘thank you’ or ‘enjoy your day’ to anyone in a public facing job for example, could make.
After all, being kind and accepting these days is totally punk rock.
Love hard. Be fierce. Horns high.