Part 2: Letting go of fear
A few weeks ago, at the start of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, we mentioned that we would be using the On the 5th Day platform to try and encourage more conversation about mental health. If you missed that feature, you can check it out here: https://www.5thday.co.uk/mentalhealthawareness.
Well frick sake, where do you start… no, really.
Mental health is a massive topic that can be approached from a million different angles and trust us, it has not been easy to find a starting point… attempting to write about it ourselves has been hugely challenging. We felt energised and excited by the idea that On the 5th Day could play a part in reducing stigma so we put our intention out there for all to see... and we were full of ideas for how to do it too but when it actually came to putting pen to paper, as it were, and bringing those ideas to life… well, total mental block (ironically).
The fears instantly came up in abundance: it’s too sensitive a topic to do justice, especially on social media; what if we approach it in the wrong way; what if someone misunderstands what we say; what if we trivialise it for someone who is really struggling; who are we to even attempt to shine light on the subject; surely someone else can do it better; actually it’s probably best to keep quiet... and the list goes on!
These and a multitude of other fears and obstacles reared their heads which we tried to navigate in an attempt to find an answer, until it finally clicked… full on light bulb moment. Of course we're up against these fears, this is the point, and this is EXACTLY why we need to push through and talk about it. Just how challenging it has been to find the “right” approach goes to show just how much fear and stigma surrounds the topic. It shouldn’t be this scary or intimidating, especially given that every single one of us is affected because we are all on the spectrum. There, we said it….
Every single one of us sits somewhere on the mental health spectrum.
From feeling on top of the world and like we’ve got this, to managing the day-to-day risks to our mental wellness which come with being human (work pressures, stress etc), right through to more serious, clinically diagnosed mental health illnesses… We're all on it, because we're all human. Whilst we’re certainly not medically trained practitioners in a position to give out advice, we absolutely won’t exclude anyone when we talk about mental health… like we’ve said before, in our eyes we are all one, no matter what, and no matter where we are on the spectrum, we all matter and it all counts.
The following definition should also help us to appreciate how mental health isn’t an isolated “thing” affecting just some of us:
"Mental health is not just the absence of mental disorder. It is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community." (mind.org.uk)
Surely simply sitting with this for a bit can help to dispel some of the stigma surrounding mental health?
So that’s it, now we’re clear… going forward we vow to be more ballsy and to push through our fears; we vow to be sensitive and considerate and we won’t pretend to understand everything or have all the answers - but that won’t stop us from having a go... approaching a subject that has been avoided for far too long with respect and courage, and owning it!
Until next time....
Photo credit: Pulkin Kamal