As the title would suggest, today is World Mental Health Day. For me and for many others around the world, it's kind of exciting. It's exciting to know that it's on the agenda - that there's conversations, events and articles today dedicated to something extremely important.
The topic of mental health is quite a popular one on my blog - on my 'About' page I have links to many articles I've written on the subject, too.Yet, the reason for that may appear a little unclear. Most mental health blogs are written from a personal experience. As I'm currently looking for a job, it is a little awkward that I write about mental health frequently, yet I'm reluctant to broadcast to the online world exactly why that is.
I feel very strongly about breaking down the stigma of mental health. I hope to spend the rest of my life helping in my own little way to reach out to those with mental health problems. Yet, I don't want to openly broadcast my own mental health problems online or in person because I don't want a potential employer to decide against hiring me. But then - when I thought about the contradiction that this presents - I know I don't want to work for someone who would discriminate against that, anyway.
A few months ago, during a week-long visit across the country from where I was living for work to home, I pretty much mentally and physically broke down. Since then I've had a daily struggle - more so than I have for the past five years of living with a severe anxiety disorder.
The guilt, the sense of failure and the shame of disappointing myself and others is almost as crippling as the disorder itself. There are plenty of things that need improving with mental healthcare in this country. But I cannot stress enough that one important message that needs to be spread is that you wouldn't let anyone make you feel bad for having a physical illness, and that goes for mental illness, too.
Over the past month I've been suffering from agoraphobia, too. I've been told: 'Just go outside and you'll be fine', and 'mind over matter'. Whilst they were said in good spirits, this widespread view of mental health problems being a case of just not thinking positively enough needs to be further addressed.
On a whole, however, this past year has been an eventful and positive one for mental health. In June there was a mental health debate in the House of Commons. Nobody could have predicted that several MPs would 'come out' about their own mental health problems. This definitely got mental health on the radar. Then there was '4 Goes Mad', a week of documentaries addressing OCD, mental health and unemployment and obsessive compulsive hoarding.
There was also a documentary on Ruby Wax's struggle with depression. You can find an amazing talk from her on TED about how none of us are equipped to live in the 21st century.
World Mental Health Day serves lots of purposes: discussion, action, communication and encouragement. There are thousands of words floating around the internet and countless conversations going on around the world about mental health today.
If you take away anything from reading my tiny little contribution, be it this: you or someone you love will, at some point in their life, suffer from a mental health problem. It can be difficult to get your head around if it's someone else – but if you can’t quite understand it, just be kind.