Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week and the media has been full of articles about how the pandemic has increased the incidence of mental health and has offered prolific advice about relaxation, how to de-stress and how to take time for ourselves.
Any initiative that raises the issue of mental health is very welcome. The last year has been very tough for many people: we have lived through unprecedented times, our lives have been totally altered and this undoubtedly has and will continue to have a profound effect on all of us in many ways.
However, leaving the last year aside, I think the real importance of the initiative is to make us all more aware of, and more understanding of, mental illnesses. Mental illness is so often hidden. You can’t see it, and it is easy to judge those who are battling with unseen demons, thoughts and behaviours by the visible manifestations of their illness. When we see someone with a broken arm for instance, we offer sympathy, offer to hold a door or carry a bag. However, for those battling with mental issues, there is often no obvious sign, so they don’t elicit the sympathy they often desperately need.
This week also saw ‘International Nurses’ Day’ and it is important to particularly remember those who work and care for mental health patients, for whom there is often no fix-all cure or end to treatment.
Thankfully, weeks like this week help to de-stigmatise this type of illness and raise awareness of how common it is to suffer from mental problems. I hope this week will encourage us all to be more honest, seek help when we need to and throw light into a dark area of our experience.
#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek #Mentalhealth #NursesDay