From 15 to 21 May, it is Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme this year is Anxiety – one of the most common mental health problems people face.
We Mind & Kelly Matters have partnered up with the Mental Health Foundation and together we hope to increase people’s awareness and understanding of anxiety by providing information on the things that can help prevent it from becoming a problem. At the same time, we will keep up the pressure to demand change – making sure that improving mental health is a key priority for the government and society as a whole.
Everyone can feel anxious. But when you live with severe mental illness, anxiety can reach a whole new level: stigma, discrimination, lack of support, side effects of medication, mania, psychosis, limited access to housing, employment, and welfare. These are all unique anxieties, faced on a daily basis by those of us experiencing mental illness.
You might be wondering whether one person’s efforts can really make a difference, and the answer is “yes”. Every conversation you have about the importance of recognising and treating mental illness creates a ripple effect that reaches people in your circle and far beyond it. There are many ways that you can raise awareness for mental health and help reduce someone’s anxiety. Read on for some suggestions:
- Talk with everyone you know, asking friends, family, and colleagues how they’re doing. Make sure to really listen to their answers and remember our hashtag #asktwice if you think someone is not ok.
- Open up about your experiences if you feel comfortable to do so. Sharing your story about your own struggles with mental illness could be the encouragement that someone else needs to open up about theirs. It can be reassuring to hear that someone else has experienced similar struggles and is now able to tell their story. Don’t feel like you need to talk about everything, especially if you’re not happy to do so. You can share snippets or certain parts of your story. If you don’t want to share your story, that’s okay too.
- Encourage kind language. Any language that reinforces the stigma surrounding mental illness is harmful and might keep someone from getting help. Be sure to speak about mental health in an open and non-judgemental way, practising active listening and being curious about hearing different people’s experiences and perspectives.
- Educate yourself about mental illness so that you can pass on your knowledge to those in your circle. It’s common for people to misunderstand mental illness, so educating yourself on common misconceptions prepares you to have those conversations. This should include talking with children about mental health in age-appropriate terms. Children aren’t immune to mental illness and can experience conditions like depression and anxiety at an early age.
- Encourage people to see the connection between physical and mental health. Eating healthily, getting plenty of exercise and sleeping enough all play a vital part in a person’s mental and emotional state. Mental health doesn’t exist in isolation from your physical health, so looking after both simultaneously can be a very effective way to maintain positive wellbeing.
Whilst we love our pink branding, the international Mental Health Awareness Week colour is green. This means that you can wear a green ribbon or clothing in support of the event. By wearing the colour green, you’re demonstrating support for mental health awareness. You can also take part in green-themed craft activities in school or at home. You can find out more about ‘Wear it Green Day’ here: https://bit.ly/41BnZsM
To celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week, the We Mind & Kelly Matters team will be at Rushden Lakes on Thursday 18th May from 10am until 3pm in the pink beach hut opposite Superdry. More information about this in our ‘What’s On’ guide within this newsletter.