Mental health. Wellbeing. Happiness. We know the importance of looking after our minds as well as our bodies…but mental wellbeing is such a huge (and complex) issue to tackle.
This month we’ve seen the first ever Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit; and we’ve had World Mental Health Day with a focus on young people and mental health in a changing world. It’s great that more people are talking about mental health issues – letting people know #itsoknottobeok and there is #noshame – but, the statistics we see today are pretty sad in themselves. 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 children will experience a mental health challenge(1) ; half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14 with most cases undetected and untreated(2) ; 5821 people took their own lives in the UK in 2017(3) and we now have a suicide prevention minister.
And I’m no expert but I question whether the stats may even underestimate the reality. Most of us have to deal with some sh*t in life. There isn’t always a perfect, happily ever after. You might not consider yourself to be suffering any mental health issues, but you have off-days; times of feeling overwhelmed, or a little lost in life. Some might not view their low mood as a mental health challenge, it’s just the way they’ve always been. Mothers, hiding behind a façade of I’m fine…while postnatal depression sits quietly under the radar. Men, keeping up appearances, who don’t want to share their internal battles – and yet males account for three-quarters of suicides. And then there are the people who have a family member or friend with mental health struggles; those people need support too. I may not be right but I often suspect that more people than we think are experiencing mental wellbeing challenges, in one way or another.
I wonder, if we ranked ourselves on a scale of mental ‘wellness’ where would we all be on that scale?
If I’m being honest, I’ve been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster this last year. My youngest daughter turned one at the end of September, and my eldest turned four last week. Having two kids; being sleep (and time) deprived – it’s definitely pushed me to my limits at times. The youngest has some health issues so she’s been in and out of hospital over the last year. We were told she’d most likely grow out of it by the age of one; her most recent ambulance call-out was four days before her first birthday so we’re not out the woods as yet. I know things could be a lot worse but there are some days when it all gets on top of me.
I’m not writing this for sympathy, I’m putting it out there in case you might be finding it hard too, for whatever reason. Or, as is often the case, there’s no reason whatsoever and you just don’t feel in a good place. If you have times of feeling cr*ppy, you’re not alone, it’s OK to have bad days, but if you’re struggling every day please find someone to talk to.
I can’t wave my magic wand and make everyone happier, but I’d like to do my bit to try and help…
I’ve wanted to do more with Women Aloud for a while. When 1st September arrived, the plan was to shake off the Summer, to leap back in and get momentum going again. And yet here we are; in October and there’s been very little progress. Uh!
Kids; illnesses; new part-time studying; all those little life dramas…it has put my Women Aloud world into the backseat. But, instead of beating myself up about it (as I’m prone to doing), I’m just going to try again. The same as I do with my days. If I’ve had one where it’s all felt a bit too much, that’s OK, tomorrow is a new day. So if I need to keep starting afresh, trying again, and again, then I will because life isn’t always easy.
I know there are things I could be doing to improve my wellbeing, which I haven’t been doing. I want to try.
I’d like to share the little things we can do day-to-day to feel better…in all areas of life. To make Women Aloud somewhere to turn to when you’re looking for support and inspiration for all things health and happiness. I’m working on it. It won’t be overnight. But please stick with me on the journey. I’d love you to be part of a community of women trying to live the best life they can.
(If you’ve got a story to share or you’re an expert who would like to get involved, please message me email@example.com)