1 in 4 of us will experience mental health difficulties at some point in our lives (Mind), sometimes repeatedly. This can range from mild depression or anxiety to more debilitating symptoms – not being able to cope with day to day life, everything seeming overwhelming, feelings of panic out of the blue, to name a few – and more serious disorders of various kinds. Some people struggle with these things for years, sometimes without help or any relief. And yet this is still such a difficult thing to talk about.
There is even today a perception that people suffering symptoms are weak, need to pull themselves together, or are simply seeking attention. Men are sometimes told to ‘man up’. And yet this is sad because in some cases those pointing the finger have perhaps not been able to ask for help themselves, and so can’t bear to see others asking for it.
Just talking about symptoms can help – feeling heard and understood instead of judged and told what to do can go a long way to helping a person feel less alone. Poor mental health might be a perfectly normal reaction to life events or stress, yet we often feel we are not allowed to feel sad.
As our society becomes more uncertain, employment becomes less secure, and our communities more fractured, it doesn’t seem surprising that we might struggle more with sadness, anxiety, worry, low mood or mood swings, or anger. There is no shame in seeking help of whatever kind you might need – therapist, coach, or guide of some kind. For some reason, seeing a therapist still appears less acceptable than other kinds of support. But it is just as essential as a doctor or dentist for physical health or a business coach for guiding your business.
We think mental health takes care of itself. It does not. We all need a little help and support from time to time. Valuing ourselves means valuing all parts of ourselves and attending to them – physical, mental and spiritual. Looking after our mental health is sometimes about finding the time for some meditation or finding a quiet moment in the day, and sometimes it is about finding a therapist, and sometimes it is about all of these things. Let’s start making looking after our mental health a priority this new year – giving ourselves space and above all, permission.