Reflections on Mental Health
I have many friends that work in mental health. In fact, one of them, Butho, has published an excellent post in relation to his experiences serving people who had been in some way affected by or involved in dealing with the fallout from the Manchester Arena bombing a few years ago. You can read his article on LinkedIn.
It is, in a sense, refreshing that we can now talk candidly about mental health. I grew up in an era within my culture when men, in particular, were expected not to cry or show any emotions that hinted at vulnerability. An outcome of this outlook is that many suffered in silence and failed to find true fulfilment in life. It is likely than many sought to drown their sorrows in the beer bottle, failed to reach their potential in their families or work life, and died premature deaths. I can think of a number of family members about whom this might be true.
A recent conversation with someone I know brought this to the fore. He has been battling some personal demons (drug addiction) and slowly making progress. However, he has found, lately, that he breaks down at the flimsiest of triggers and finds himself sobbing. This is disconcerting for a mature man in his fifties; but he recognises that there are underlying issues for which he needs professional help.
I had the conversation above last week, which, coincidentally, was Mental Health Awareness Week in the U.K. This is a worthwhile focus that, in my view, was overshadowed by the focus on Covid-19. This might have had the unfortunate effect of reducing the impact and reach of any campaigns that were actually undertaken by different organisations. In light of the fact that mental health problems are likely to be exacerbated by job losses and current restrictions on movement, we should look at continuing the focus on mental health and publicising the resources available to help those facing mental health challenges.
As we consider this possibility, it is also poignant that mental health statistics indicate that women are more likely to be diagnosed with self-referred conditions such as stress and depression; but when it comes to bipolar illness and schizophrenia, gender differences diminish. One possibility is that males are somehow more resilient when it comes to such conditions. However, it is also likely that men do not refer themselves as readily to health professionals when they experience some mental health challenges. If you have any experience with this, you are welcome to shed more light in the comments below.
Whatever the explanation, the good news is that nobody needs to suffer in silence. If you, or anybody you know, are facing mental health challenges, seek help from a medical professional. If your doctor or pharmacist is not in a position to help, they will be able to refer you to someone who can.
The video below gives an overview of five of the most common mental health challenges encountered in the U.K. It’s worth having a look if it’s something you don’t regularly deal with.