World mental health day has been important to me only the last few years, when I found out it even existed; through having mental health problems myself.
In brief, I had a complete breakdown at the start of my 2nd year in uni, when studying to be a nurse (in 2006). I quickly spiralled and it was only a few months before my first, of many, admissions to psychiatric units. I was regularly harming myself and making various attempts to take my own life.
It’s 10 years this month actually, since my first ever admission. I’ve been out of hospital for a total of 18 months now. That’s actually the longest in this last 10 years, that I’ve managed to stay away from there and manage my mental health problems in a more positive and effective way.
I have come across many different professionals over the years; not just within mental health, but in general health too. Nurses, doctors, consultants, paramedics, healthcare support workers, kitchen staff in hospitals, receptionists, GP’s, counsellors – you name it. I’ve met my fair share of nice and not-so-nice people. It’s the good ones in my stories that matter most to me. Those who weren’t just there to look after me because it was their job; the ones that took their time with me. The ones who cared about me as a fellow human being. The ones who saw me as an equal person to them. The ones who treated me how they would like their loved ones to be treated should they ever be in that unfortunate situation. To do those things, they didn’t need a degree in psychiatry, medicine or nursing. Empathy isn’t something that can be taught.
Working with people with mental health problems can be extremely testing at times. And equally it can be extremely rewarding.
Whether you work in mental health or not, we could all be affected at one point or another. 1 in 4 people will suffer with a mental health problem. The best way to raise awareness is to talk… be open. Feeling low, hearing voices, struggling with anxiety… none of these examples are anything to feel ashamed about. Never be afraid to talk about mental health.
It isn’t a sign of weakness. You’re not being ridiculous. And most importantly, once you start to talk, you’ll realise you are not the only one feeling or thinking the way you are right now. You are not alone!
Happy world mental health day for 2016. I wish you all happiness, health and humour 😍❤