Starting a conversation about mental health doesn’t have to be difficult.
I could have started this blog talking about all the great work our charity of the year does and what awesome fundraising activities we’ll be taking part in, but this all felt a bit false, as I’d be ignoring an experience that if shared, could start a conversation or, in some small way, positively affect someone.
My experience isn’t something I talk about, even my closest friends and colleagues don’t know how poor mental health has shaped my past.
So here we go…
My mother suffered significantly from mental health issues and after my parents divorced, when I was 9 and my sister was 6, it heightened the difficulties she faced. This culminated in her deciding that this world wasn’t for her and she left us when I was 18.
This year I turned 36 and have lived longer without her than with her. This is a significant milestone for me and, as a new mother, I have begun to appreciate the events of my childhood from a new perspective.
Like a skipping stone the ripples of her poor mental health and death were felt by many and still feature significantly in my thoughts and life choices. I wonder now how different her life would have been if she’d had access to support, guidance and understanding.
What is Mental Health?
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
Mental health problems are a common human experience.
Every year, 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem.
When you’re living with a mental health problem, or supporting someone who is, having access to the right information – about a condition, treatment options, or practical issues – is vital. It can change a life.
It is only in recent years I have come to explore what mental health means for me as an individual, a mother, a family member, an employer & colleague and as a wider part of my community.
It has become very clear to me that the simple step of talking about mental health is the most important first step that every single one of us can take. Poor mental health is extremely common, every single one of us will be affected by it, and we all have the power to help someone who is experiencing a period of poor mental health.
I’ve not spoken about the experiences of my childhood for many reasons but the two main ones are:
- I didn’t understand
- I didn’t want to make other people feel uncomfortable
In hindsight, I realise now that, just as she didn’t feel able to take positive steps and didn’t have access to consistent guidance and support, I too could have helped my journey by talking to people.
We so desperately need to start talking about mental health, it is the first step in getting help and the first step in removing the taboo involved about getting help.
So, let’s talk. Let’s find ways to stop being afraid of or ashamed of times when our mental health is ‘under the weather’. Let’s work together to make it perfectly acceptable to admit we aren’t feeling mentally well. You’d offer someone a painkiller if they had a headache. Let’s find a way of doing the same for mental health. Let’s look after ourselves and each other.
Supporting Norwich Mind
Throughout 2016 the team at Indigo Swan are supporting Norwich Mind. This wonderful charity provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.
They won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect.
My reading highlighted to me that 1 in 10 young people will experience a mental health problem. I can only think that these young minds will grow into adults who would benefit greatly from early support. With this in mind I was delighted when the Indigo Swan team decided to specifically fundraise for Norwich Mind’s Youth Mind First Aid course. This innovative new project aims to develop the understanding around mental health and young people, improve access to support services and offers young people more opportunities to manage their well-being.
Watch This Space
Each month within our newsletter, on our Twitter account and on our Just Giving page we will be updating you on our fundraising activities and more information about what we can do an employers, colleagues, friends & families to help those experiencing a mental health problem.
By Emily Groves
Founder & Managing Director