I get confused when I hear ‘mental health day’. It implies that everything is hunky dory on the mental front, that every other day we don’t have mental illness (and some of us don’t.). It’s like saying 10 December is physical health day. Saturday 10 October, is World Mental Health Day.
If you didn’t know, it’s a day of campaigning designed as, thank God, a wake up call for national and local governments – asking them to pull out their finger and do something about this problem that by 2020 will be pandemic. The scale of mental health problems is so large that it is a no brainer to start finding ways to help those who need it and fast. I don’t need to tell you how hard it is to get someone to see you if you have a mental problem or the fact they throw generic pills at you like candy to get you off their backs (I don’t mention names).
It is a day where hopefully national and local governments are informed about what needs to be done for improving mental health policies – the NHS needs reform to help us better. This isn’t for some small minority – it’s for one in four (and the families and friends that support the one in four). That’s a lot of votes they could get if they got off their behinds.
To bring awareness to mental health hopefully flags up the fact we still have a stigma situation that there are people on planet earth who still think those of us with mental illness are doing it for attention or because we’re just not able to pull ourselves together. My hope is everyone starts to understand that mental IS physical. It just happens to be a disease of the brain which is without doubt the most important organ you’re carrying. When any other organ goes out of commission you get sympathy cards, but if your brain is ill, you might get some friends telling you to “perk up”. Because you didn’t think of that.
Could we please wake up. It’s 2015 for God’s sake. It’s time to spend some money on why people aren’t mentally healthy to come up with solutions to alleviate the suffering. When I perform my show, Sane New World, I invite the audience to have a discussion or ask questions. Three times I’ve had people stand up and say that they’ve had cancer and mental illness and when I ask which is worse to them they’ve all said the depression. One man told me and the audience that with cancer he wanted to live, with depression he wanted to die.
I hope people wake up and realise they can run, they can hide, they can pretend it doesn’t exist but if there are one in four that means if not them it’s someone they know or are related to.
Perhaps, on this day we should drag these people trying to get away with going to work that they should wake up and smell the roses. I hope it makes people aware that unless more focus is shone on the brain – in research, in funding, in healthcare – because right now I think it gets the least attention of all diseases rolled up together. Let’s wave that banner. If on this day of days we could somehow stop the stigma than I salute it.
My new book – A Mindfulness Guide For The Frazzled – will be published in January 2016. Be the first to find out more here. Until then, I’ll be back on the road with Sane New World. There are still some tickets available.
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