How aware were you of World Mental Health Day? If you didn’t know, it took place last month, on 10th October. I know that my social media was awash with posts, comments and memes recognising the significance of this day. However, I’m equally aware that my echo chamber may not reflect the experience of everyone. And it’s actually the people who don’t see all this activity who are the most important to reach.
What is World Mental Health Day?
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this day of recognition was a new initiative. With increasing amounts of attention paid to mental health in the mainstream media, it’s certainly more visible. However, the very first Mental Health Day was in 1992. It was put in place by the World Federation for Mental Health, which itself was established way back in 1948. So this is a well established campaign, with all the associated resources and support that you’d expect.
We all have variable states of mental health; some days you may feel like queen of the castle and others not so much. Amongst women and the plus size community, feelings of anxiety regarding health and body image can be prevalent. So here are the positive things I gleaned from this day.
This is a HUGE one when it comes to mental health in the modern world. Your social media streams can be a source of support or one of pain. At the same time that one voice is offering acceptance, an image may undermine you. With such a barrage of conflicting messages hitting us daily, it’s no wonder that social media is on the radar of anyone talking about mental health day. But how can social media threaten mental health? It can be a fantastic way to remain connected to those around you. But we should all work out ways to moderate the pressure that it can place on us.
This is why mindfulness comes up so often as a positive step. This year’s theme for Mental Health Day was suicide prevention. It’s important to recognise that good mental health is not just about depression. It’s about being able to function positively within your community. To pursue positive and healthy relationships with those around you. Taking time out to appreciate and assess the good and bad in your life will bring clarity to your perception. This could take the form of meditation, religious faith, yoga, playing an instrument (however badly!) or going for a walk or run.
One great thing about days of recognition such as World Mental Health Day is the access to resources that it enables. In the UK, by logging on to the Mental Health Foundation website, there is ready access to publications which offer advice for anything from anxiety to stress to sleep. It’s amazing how many of these things are intertwined. So when you address one aspect of your mental health, others are likely to improve too.
This Mental Health Day, I saw loads of online posts in support of the day. Great for awareness! However, posting a meme to Facebook or Instagram does not automatically offer support. The best support is through communication and maintaining opportunities for communication. Sometimes it’s easier to chat to people outside of our closest circles. Indeed it may be people with circumstances in common who can offer the most productive support. This is why groups such as the plus size community are such great places.
Mental Health Day was last month, but this doesn’t mean that its messages should disappear from the horizon. If you suspect that someone close to you is suffering with their mental health, or if you feel like you’re struggling yourself, reach out. Whether it’s to someone close to you, or within a supportive online forum.