“Mental Health for All”

It’s #worldmentalhealthday, and the above is the theme set for this year by the World Federation for Mental Health. So I’m sitting with my morning coffee contemplating what action I can take to help achieve this.

I am now reliably in the habit of taking action for my own mental health – a quiet, slow morning coffee before work every day to kick my brain into “calm and capable” mode. Regular exercise to help manage my anxiety levels. But what can I do to help with everyone’s mental health? I can’t claim to be passionate about mental health awareness and support while sitting back thinking of no-one but myself, so I’ve decided to set a few goals for the next few months.

Prompted by the approach of #wmhd2020, I’ve started trying to access Mental Health First Aider training again through work, as I was sadly away the last time this was offered. If this route fails, I’ll explore other options. Yes, I have some experience of mental health difficulties myself, but that doesn’t mean I can be complacent and think that I know the best way to support others. As a friend, a family member, a colleague and a manager, I want to make sure I’m in the best position to handle a conversation about mental health in the right way.

I suppose signing up to a (now cancelled) half marathon to raise money for Mind was also a step in the right direction. Although the motivation was slightly selfish, since running helps my own mental health. My training to run a “virtual” half has not really gone to plan, but at some stage during October I will plod my way through that 13.1 miles anyway, and raise a few pounds to help Mind continue providing advice and campaigning for better mental health support. You can donate here, if you like!

But I’m still lacking a good answer on how to help make mental health support more accessible for everyone. This year, I finally decided to invest some money in therapy to tackle a handful of long-unresolved issues. But it really is exactly that – a sizeable financial investment. One that was absolutely out of the question for a long time, and that even now I’m stretching myself to afford. What if I needed help urgently, and couldn’t pay? Would there be the right support available, in the right area, at the right time? I suspect the answer isn’t always a positive one.

I don’t make policies or allocate budgets, so I suppose the one thing I can do is to make time to learn more. I’ve heard many times that there isn’t enough accessible support out there, but I probably don’t understand exactly where the gaps are and what needs to change. What campaigns can I get involved with? How can I volunteer some time? Can I help share the resources that are out there, so that more people come across them?

So I guess that last point is more a set of questions than a goal. Maybe the goal for now is to use today to explore some of the huge amount of information being shared online, and plan some next steps from there. And my challenge to anyone who has made it to the end of this brain-dump is to take just 10 minutes out of your day, to consider what action you can take for your own mental health, or that of others.

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