Knowing the value of good mental health after having experienced the disruptive force of losing it, is a great reason to keep the relevance of World Mental Health Day, October 10th, in mind.
My experience with acute distress which led to diagnosis and treatment I’m now pleased, and proud to say is well behind me.
Each year that World Mental Health Day comes round I find time to reflect on that experience 16 years ago, and how it changed my life and also just how far, despite it’s residual effects, I’ve come.
I feel compelled annually to both reflect and contribute a written piece as witness to the value of good support, and attest to the value of effective listeners and friends, when one’s own emotional reserves may need ‘patching up’.
The theme of this years World Mental Health Day is two-fold,
Dignity and psychological first aid
Maintaining dignity after experiencing breakdown or trauma isn’t always easy but it’s an aspect of self-worth that’s important to strive for. It’s that inner core of being which aids us regain our sense of self when things get emotionally blurred, or practically chaotic, reminding us,
‘you do deserve to be well and have peace of mind’.
Dignity itself acts like first-aid, it can help people not to be cowed by negative or traumatic experiences.
The World Federation of Mental Health who are responsible for World Mental Health Day say that psychological first aid is primarily,
‘A humanitarian and appropriate response during times of mental health crisis’,
the WFMH also acknowledge that it not always situations of crisis which precipitate the need for psychological first aid.
Stress factors that occur either as a result of everyday pressures and mishaps that befall all, the more extreme aspects of mental illness that affect some, and pertinent to this years theme those global issues where major trauma , such as war displaces people from their loved ones and homes.
Some can be alleviated, their effects possibly reduced through particular interventions, the World Health Organisation have an extensive and excellent report on proposed ways it can be addressed.
As respects individual mental trauma, professionals are the obvious first-aiders when its extreme or acute forms disrupt wellbeing, however it is also good to see WFMH acknowledge that telling our personal stories, related in informal ways, can also act as triage.
With that in mind they are encouraging people to share their own ways of coping with trauma and as an aid to manage their own incidence of trauma. They also give credit to the contribution of non-professionals who come to the aid of those who’s good mental health is disrupted.
On or around World Mental Health Day, people are asked to consider getting together with friends or family for ‘tea and talk’ and to use the occasion to consider making a donation to the Mental Health Foundation.
Making time for someone in distress so they can talk through it is a quick, low cost act of first-aid simply but effectively applied.
Keep your conversations about ways to positive mental wellbeing fresh.
Finding effective personal strategies or accessing relevant available resouces can be a challenge, epecially if ongoing emotional/mental distress sometimes dints your dignity.
May World Mental Health Day find you with your dignity intact.