Ok, I’m just going to say it. The #mentalhealthawarenessweek is great and all but it’s not awareness people need. It’s just having a sense of basic fucking human decency. If one in four people were having constant nosebleeds, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s better to have a week dedicated to raising awareness about mental health issues than not having one. But there seems to be this collective idea that people just don’t know enough when the problem actually is that some people just refuse to acknowledge the whole concept altogether.
It’s not like there isn’t a plethora of information available. More people speak openly about their mental health difficulties than ever before. People with mental health issues are extremely aware of the stigma but it just doesn’t seem to translate to the rest of the world.
Getting a bunch of celebrities talking about mental health for one minute is a nice gesture and all but it’s not going to change anything is it?
Also to me the #mentalhealthminute encapsulates everything wrong with the mental health awareness discussion. Empty grand gestures. I know a lot of people missed the Mental health minute because it wasn’t advertised properly. What’s the point of an awareness minute if no-one’s aware of it?
I think it’s nice that celebrities use their status to speak for a good thing but in a way it also supports this idea that you’re only afforded the benefit of honesty if you already have an established career. Nobody is going to refuse Dame Judi work if she speaks out about mental health are they?
At the same time people are having anonymous twitter accounts to talk about their depression or anxiety because they’re scared or ashamed to speak to their loved ones.
What needs to be recognised is that the stigma exists and it needs to be eradicated. The stigma isn’t to do with lack of information. It’s to do with basic human decency. Recognising that some people have just decided mental health issues don’t exist or that they are something shameful.
Everything seems to have a week or a day or a month dedicated to it. You become snow blinded at some point. There is a week for vegetarianism, there is a day for dinosaurs. People who care about mental health issues are going to support the awareness movement anyway. What is needed are some concrete actions, not something that can be ticked off today’s ‘I cared’ list with a like and retweet.
Mental health awareness isn’t about lack of information. It’s about finding it within yourself to have sympathy towards someone who is having a hard time. Would you be telling someone with a broken leg or terminal cancer just to get over it?
Awareness isn’t the problem but it sounds better than ‘stop being a dickhead’-week. If anything is going to change, we need more than empty gestures.
Do you know someone who has an unhelpful attitude towards mental health? Call them out on it. Is your colleague or boss being inappropriate? Get in touch with the HR. Contact you local MP and ask what they are going to do about improving mental health treatment in your local area. Keep talking once the awareness week runs out. Hit people over the head with mental health until they have to listen. Awkward? Tough tits. Nothing is ever going to change unless someone steps up and does the right thing.
It’s the same attitude all of these people are showing those with mental health issues. Have a bad attitude? Just get over it. We’re not living at the dark ages anymore. Chop chop.
‘Why do I have to make the effort, why do I have to be the bigger person once again?’ you may ask.
I’m not saying it’s fair but the whole concept exists because of unfairness. Nothing changes if nobody makes things a bit uncomfortable to those who are in the wrong. Just a hint, the people in the wrong are not the people who suffer from an illness they didn’t ask for. So get cracking.