You're probably aware by now that this week has been Mental Health Awareness Week so what better time is there to talk about it? We have been sharing a few applications that have been recommended over our social media from this blog and I am writing this as an extra to help raise awareness and end the stigma.
As someone who only left school last year, mental health was a topic that was heavily discussed during assemblies and lessons, tutors and students even had days dedicated to learning more about it. There was a particular push on this during exam times, various teachers would suggest different techniques to help track your mental wellbeing throughout, essentially, it allowed us to take control of it. My favourite was; scoring stress levels out of 10 for each subject each day, working revision around this and then scoring out of 10 how well we felt the exam went. We could then make a chart to show the highs and lows and how, more often than not, the whole experience worked out well in the end (even with the very stressful science classes). Due to the open discussions with teachers, mental health was then openly discussed throughout the day between friends, whether that be that they were feeling overwhelmed with exam stress or they suffered from anxiety and depression (or both), generally speaking students found it much easier to talk about.
I have also seen some of the effects mental health issues has as one of my friends suffered from anxiety and would have serious anxiety attacks regularly, I had to learn about how best I could help when she was having an attack, even being able to explain things to the teacher seemed to help out, giving her chance to catch her breath after, before then having to go through any reasons it may have happened (if she knew). This wouldn't work for everyone as each individual is different, sometimes they need leaving other times they need someone there just to talk about something else and of course, there are many other ways to help, it's about knowing the person and how they are affected.
Leaving the school environment
Since starting work and talking with professionals, whether that be in person or on a platform such as LinkedIn, there seems to be a stigma around mental health issues, it's something that seems to be hidden (or should be in their views). Now, of course, you don't have to discuss it with everyone if you don't want to, that's your prerogative. It is, however, nothing to feel embarrassed about (which a few people have stated), first of all, it's an illness and you wouldn't be embarrassed about getting a cold, would you? Second of all (if it's not formally diagnosed), everybody gets anxious and everybody feels down now and then, there are people out there that can help if it's more serious. As a professional, as an adult, as a human, we all need to work together to end this stigma! It's understandable that if you've been raised in that 'era' then you may not understand fully, the extent of mental illness and even as someone who has been taught all about it unless you have been through it or someone close to you is going through it, it is difficult to understand.
We all probably know the recent storyline by now about Aidan committing suicide to highlight the fact that suicide is the main cause of death for young males, for those who don't watch it here's the basic storyline;
After his wedding was called off (he cheated on her, she lied...) he then lost his business and fell out with his family, he then joined forces with a former employee and after months of hard work reopened the business, had built his bridges and had everything back on track. This, of course, was then a huge shock when his dad found him in his apartment. (I know it's a programme) It goes to show that those that seem to be perfectly happy with everything still have their own problems. A beautiful young girl in the year above me at school, I didn't know her personally but she had lots of brilliant friends and was always laughing and joking but one day we were called into an assembly at school to be told she had taken her own life. Mental health is not something to be brushed off and dealt with later on, it's important!
I am in no way an expert with any of this, these are all my own views and I understand that others may not see eye to eye with me, however if this could improve the understanding of a few it could just make the world of difference, mental health is not something to deal with after a project is done with, always take time for yourself to avoid burnouts. It might not always be easy to raise the topic or talk about but please make sure you have someone to speak to and ensure that we can work together to end this stigma.