Today marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week UK. This year’s theme is ‘Surviving or Thriving?’ The idea is to explore why too few of us are thriving with good mental health.
So many things can have a negative impact on our mental wellbeing, which if not dealt with, could lead to a mental health condition developing. Chronic stress, major life events, ill-health, serious injury and grief, are just a few to mention. These can lead to anxiety, depression, mental breakdown, PTSD, eating disorders, self-harm and suicide, so it is important that our mental wellbeing thrives. Good mental health will help us deal with the nasty things life can throw at us.
The stigma surrounding mental health is starting to break down now thanks to regular campaigning by mental health charities and people with high profiles. Although there is still a long way to go, many people in various walks of life are speaking up and talking about their mental health and the things that had a negative impact on them. People also seem willing to take the time and listen to those who need to talk, which is a huge step forward from just a few years ago. All the campaigning is having a positive impact on the public and is breaking down the stigma wall several bricks at a time.
For many years I have been clinging on by my fingernails and just about surviving. I found being open and talking to friends and family about my mental health condition helped me. It seemed to normalise the illness and make it less scary. I thought the more people who understand what I am going through, the more people there are who can support others who are battling similar illnesses.
In recent months, I have gone from ‘surviving’ to ‘thriving’, and I feel so much better than I have done for years. Much of this is down to the excellent care and support I have received from mental health services and mental health charities in my community. The ongoing support and encouragement I have received from family and friends have also played a big part in my journey from surviving to thriving.
Because I have received so much help in the community, I want to give something to others who need help; so one of the ways I feel able to do it is by blogging about my experiences through this website. Other things I am doing include volunteering with mental health charities in my area and taking part in mental health awareness events.
I am getting involved throughout Mental Health Awareness Week by joining in with activities organised by a group I am very lucky to be a member of, called Your Voice in Action (YViA). Being part of YViA has been pivotal in the rebuilding of my confidence. It was a privilege to be asked to build the website for them. I am looking forward to taking part in all the activities we have organised for the coming week. Watch this space for reports on how we got on!