It’s this week. A bit weird for me, having worked in mental health for more than 20 years, that we should now dedicate just one week out of the year to this.
One in four the official figure for the population of the UK that may be struggling with symptoms of ill health at any point in time. So look around you right now – who are you with? And do you really know what’s going on inside their minds?
Men are more likely to kill themselves than women and this has always been the case in the UK, and other western countries. Men are less likely to talk about their problems, their feelings and have historically always been encouraged to “man up”.
Women tend to talk to each other or to professionals. But I see women regularly who think they have to be superwomen, have everything together, careers, families, literally everything. And this can be a real struggle – especially in the modern world.
Awareness really is key. Being aware of our friends, family and neighbours. Being mindful of what we asking of others, the expectations and standards that we have internally, do not always fit for everyone.
No one is supposed to be superwoman or superman – not all of the time anyway. Everyone needs down time, a space to recoup energy and recharge.
If you see people charging around all the time like superheroes, check it out with them – are they getting some time out? Do they need any support with all the stuff they’re taking on? Are they really ‘fine’?
Asking questions of one another is always the best thing we can do; not interrogating or interviewing! But truly taking some time to ask with care and attention how they really are. Sometimes it takes someone else to notice, point out or ask the stupid question for people to realise that they are burning themselves out, and putting their mental health at risk.
Talk to one another, really listen to what others are saying. Take the time to notice and support one another. And remember that mental health awareness isn’t really just reserved for one week.