Mental Health Awareness Month
May is Mental Health Awareness Month in many countries around the World. Back in the UK, it’s being marked from May 12-18th by a number of charities and institutions, including the Mental Health Foundation and Anxiety UK.
“Why is mental health important?” “Isn’t it just in your head?” “Depression is just being sad, everybody gets that” “You’re just looking for a day off work” “Get a grip”. These are all things people with mental health problems have heard before, and will likely hear again. Around 1 in 6 people in the UK struggle with mental illness at any one time, yet it is stigmatised by ignorance and prejudice, and sufferers are often feared or ostracised. Admitting you have a mental health problem can make it difficult to get insurance, make your friends or relatives awkward or unsupportive, or even cost you your job. So it’s hardly surprising that many sufferers are never diagnosed, or keep their condition to themselves. Mental Health Awareness Month aims to tackle stigmas and raise awareness through education and dialogue.
What is anxiety?
The theme in the UK this year is Anxiety. Everyone experiences this at some point in their life, but normal, everyday anxiety is a world apart from panic, phobias, and mental disorders. It may not be rational, proportionate, or even caused by a particular stimulus. In additional to the psychological effects, it can also cause physical symptoms, such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, or nausea. Mental disorders associated with anxiety include obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder. Read more about anxiety on Mind’s excellent website.
- Take five minutes out of your day this month to learn about mental health, the stigma associated with it, or anxiety disorders. Use the time you’d otherwise spend on Buzzfeed/looking at kitten videos.
- Wear a green ribbon to start conversations about mental health in your workplace or home.
- Download the mental health awareness kit from the MHF, packed with ideas about spreading the conversation and tackling stigmas
- Most importantly of all, keep an open mind the next time somebody talks to you about mental health.