Why Mental Health Week Is Important FOR EVERYONE

Hello there ducks,

For those of you following me on Snapchat, you know I’m just back from a weekend break in Liverpool and I am feeling SO good in myself at the moment. It was definitely a well needed break. For anybody following me regularly, you’ll know that I don’t always feel so good.

The reason being that I suffer with my mental health and everyday is not a good day. And I’m not embarrassed to say that. I video blog daily on Snapchat and sometimes, all I can do is cry to whoever is on the other end and struggle stringing sentences together. Other times, we share laughs and talk about interesting topics and cool things I’ve found. I try to be as real as I can on Snapchat and the reason I do that is because I want to convey what suffering with mental health is really like. It isn’t always doom and gloom and it isn’t always rosey in the garden. I get a pretty-packaged surprise every morning when I open my eyes, a gift that lets me know what my day is going to be like. Sometimes I wake up with the world on my shoulders, a body caged with anxiety and worry, depression and fear. Other times, I’m free from that. But I cope as best I can and share my journey with anybody that would like to come along.

For those of you that are unaware, it is Mental Health Awareness Week this week. And that means a few things. It means that people are more willing to speak about things that I exhaust myself speaking about daily, 365 days of the year. Which is refreshing because as you can imagine, dedicating yourself to something can be consuming and for people to recognise that topic (even if it is just for a week of the year) is just nice. It also means that organisations and media outlets put more content out that relate to these topics. So for this week, we are bombarded with people sharing their stories, places you can get help and just general awareness around issues surrounding mental health in Ireland. For example, the Minister of Mental Health, Jim Daly, was on Ireland AM this morning speaking about the stigma surrounding mental health in Ireland- which was a brilliant segment and is definitely worth a watch on 3player if you get a chance.

I do believe that this week is an important week and I don’t want to downplay it but, me being me, I obviously do have a few issues with it. One of the issues being that it is built around mental illness a lot of the time and not mental health maintenance. So everybody wants to talk about the mainstream mental diagnostics (like depression, anxiety, bi-polar etc) which are obviously extremely important illnesses that do deserve coverage and awareness. But I feel that not many people want to talk about mental health maintenance- like how to prevent your mind from reaching such stages of desperation. See, I believe that mental health is just like physical health in a lot of ways. We need to mind it, we need to keep it fed with nutrients, vitamins and hydration. We need to keep an eye on it and try to stay as in tune as it as we can. And when it starts to decline slightly, we need to make sure we speak to someone about that and access the resources that we may need. Now, I understand that sometimes mental ailments are just chemical and there’s not a lot that we can do but spiral. I have been there so I totally get it. But it is important that we are taught how to mind ourselves, primarily, and then, secondly, how to deal with issues after that that may not be preventable. I also feel that there is not enough coverage on addiction during the course of this week, which as you all know I believe is a mental disorder/disease. Click here to read my last blog post which speaks about that.

Moving on, when I say mind ourselves, I mean the basic stuff that might seem really obvious to some people but is just a lot harder for others. Like eating correctly, sleeping for the right amount of time, balancing exercise and a healthy social life, being aware of healthy (debatable use of the word) alcohol intakes and working on having at least one person that we can confide in.

The issue that arrises with only raising awareness for mental illness rather than mental health maintenance is that when an awareness week like this comes around, a lot of people feel like it doesn’t apply to them. That it doesn’t really have an impact on their life. But WE ALL NEED TO MIND OURSELVES. We all need to make sure that we are giving our bodies and mind the correct basic human needs. And we all need to be looking out for each other, too.

So the point of this blog post is just for me to bring some awareness to you. Yes, you, reading this post. You might not have been diagnosed with a mental illness but you still have mental health and you still need to check in on yourself and make sure you are in tune with how you are doing. And from that, check on your friends and family. See if they need anything, ask them how they are. We all deserve to be content and happy in ourselves, with our lives and in everything we’re doing. We all deserve to have good mental health, the same way we all deserve to have good physical health. Understanding that somethings aren’t preventable, we should just try our best to deal with those problems when they arise. But before we jump to self-diagnosing with depression and anxiety, we should check that we are treating ourselves with respect and fuelling our bodies correctly.

So, mental health awareness week may have flaws but it is crucial that we recognise how important it is. Listen to the radio this week. Watch television and read the articles that you wouldn’t normally take pride in reading. We are being given, freely, information that is so needed in our society and that could have a huge impact on our own lives. Because unfortunately, you just never know what’s around the corner. And the information that is given to us this week could save our own life or the life of someone we love. Everybody has mental health, just like everybody has physical health and mental illness (as well as physical illness) does not discriminate.

That is all I wanted to say on the matter, to be honest. I’m gonna leave my links below so don’t be shy- come say hi!

Until next time,

J X

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