Usually, when we hear the term ‘mental health’, we immediately think of the negative. Due to stigma? Not being taught to speak about and learn about mental health issues from a young age? Not living in a society where being unwell mentally is just as normal as being unwell physically?
I’d say all of those reasons, and probably some more.
Clearly, we cannot function without good, positive mental health. Learning and talking about it debunks the myths, enables the best early intervention – which is a simple conversation – to begin stopping mental health issues becoming disorders.
Having been a Mental Health First Aid Instructor for over 10 years, I’ve seen the wall of stigma start to slightly crumble. Businesses are starting to train their staff in this area. Organisations like Mind have staff who have undergone Instructor training at MHFAEngland to deliver the first aider range of courses. Charities have sprung up to support niche groups such as Place2Be, CALM and so on.
There is still much more we can do. Schools, colleges, universities can adapt their curriculum and social network groups to spread the work. Many educational establishments have started already but as a fundamental building block of life and resilience needed to thrive, Mental Health needs to have a DNA focus.
Of course, families of all kinds, religions, community groups also need to start, continue and develop the conversation. Mental Health has no barriers of who it affects.
I believe mental health education starts in the home. Just as parents teach their children to brush their teeth, cross the road safely and so on, they need to make speaking about feelings equally important.
I am excited to have been retained by a global law firm to deliver mental health awareness training to some of their London staff today.
Together we can all make a difference.