So we’re coming to the end of “Mental Health Awareness Week”……. I hope it didn’t go over everyone's heads. I wonder how many people even realised that it was. I’m not a big TV watcher but I haven’t noticed a greater visibility of Mental Health on TV this week than any other week.......
There seems to be a week or a day for everything these days. I read somewhere that it’s about acknowledging the things we take for granted and well that’s what I’ve always thought Awareness Days/Weeks/Months were about - acknowledging the things we take for granted or neglect; remembering, kicking us up the backside, reminding us of important issues.
However if you search the internet for "Awareness Days" what you get is a rather interesting mixture of things we apparently need to be "aware of". It would seem however, that the lists also include days which we apparently need to be "celebrating" or be "paying tribute to", such as Towel Day, Rocky Road Dessert Day, World Goth Day and Sewing Machine Day…..
Sewing Machine Day - yes apparently sew (sorry!) Don’t get me wrong, making our own clothes etc is a great thing to be doing – in fact taking up a hobby and being creative is actually great for our mental health! But do people really take sewing machines for granted? Maybe they take for granted the people in sweat shops using them in China or wherever but I’m starting to lose the plot here. Ah yes this one isn’t about being aware it’s about celebrating…. or is it a tribute…. or perhaps it is awareness…. oh I don’t know? Is it important? Should I be getting mine out?!!
The point is, that the more special “Days” we make up the less special they are. We end up with just another day of this or day of that. I fear important messages risk getting lost, as people give up trying to keep up what they’re meant to be remembering today!
We have plenty to be grateful for, but do we need to celebrate all these things on a specific day? All just seems a bit gimmicky to me.
Of course the charities, health organisations and environment agencies want to promote and make people aware of the issues out there and I fully support that. Having a day to push important issues out there is valid. We lead busy and distracted lives in which many things become neglected and taken for granted so feel free to kick us up the backside and remind us of the important issues.
And while we’re on the subject of taking things for granted; what we DO often take for granted is ourselves, other people and the world. Incidentally these are considered key components of our belief system in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy CBT. Improving your relationship with yourself, with other people and the environment are pretty positive things to do. AND AT LAST, that leads on to….
MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS!……….
The theme this year from the Mental Health Foundation has been Relationships. The MHF point out that relationships are fundamental to our health & well-being and that we cannot flourish as individuals and communities without them.
Having support, being able to talk to others, to socialise are really important to our Mental Health; we are social beings. Yet there are many in our society who are isolated; it has long since been the norm for extended families to be together and lack of resources impacts on the quality of “community” services. Ask yourself...
How many people in the area you live in, see no one all day?
And what about the quality of you own relationships? When you come home from work, do you ask anyone in the household how their day has been? If you do, do you listen? (I know I have been guilty of looking over the top of my laptop at a family member and responding but on reflection I’ve only heard part of what was said!) Do you pick up the phone and call a friend or go and see them or do you just text? How many arguments occur because a text or facebook message is misunderstood? No amount of emojiis is really going to give you the meaningful interaction you can have on a 1:1 basis. Does your family sit at the table to eat or in front of the TV or in separate rooms? Do you feel able to open a conversation with someone? Do you feel socially anxious? How do you start a relationship if you don’t feel confident or feel good about yourself? How do you improve your existing relationships?
Mental health issues can make us feel isolated and can impact on relationships negatively and if we don't have strong relationships we can find ourselves feeling even more isolated.
Good relationships can help maintain or improve our mental health so lets be aware and work on relationships. What changes could you make in your relationships?
For more information on the campaign visit Mental Health Foundation’s website: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week/why-relationships#sthash.L0y8vVO4.dpuf
If you have any questions feel free to comment or email
I hope that a few people out there have taken on board the MHF Campaign about Mental Health Awareness and relationships – it’s not gimmicky it's life and our mental health IS important!
Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, Integrative Psychotherapist, Nurse Specialist (Mental Health), Mum, Youth Worker, Trainer.......