Mental Health doesn’t just stop after 16/05

With Stress Awareness Month (April) and Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness followed by Mental Health Awareness Week from 4th – 16th May, there has been a strong focus on mental health in the UK and its effect on life. With the extraordinary events caused by Covid 19 over the last 18 months, it is fair to say most if not all in the UK have been impacted mentally in some way, perhaps only marginally but for some the effects have been life changing.

Mental Health Awareness Week Banner

As I sit writing, England has entered the 3rd stage of restrictions being lifted and some are finally hugging loved ones after over a year and a half of no face to face contact. I am fortunate, my parents only live around the corner and, as they formed part of our child care bubble, I have been able to consistently see them over these months. I know how lucky / privileged I am for having that. I cannot imagine the extra stress / worry / anxiety that would have been caused should I have been located a distance from them. 

However, the lifting of restrictions doesn’t bring a simple end to the mental health issues that lockdown presented, we now face uncertainty in the face of new variants, potential localised restrictions returning but also the reintegration into a ‘social’ life is not straightforward for some. Simply returning to the office, a return to commuting or even just an evening in the pub is a big step given how guarded with contact we have been. It is not as simple as a switch.

The pandemic is just one current causal factor in the impact of mental health and just because the awareness week has passed, it should not mean that any of us stop to think about our fellow human beings and how ‘life’ can impact their mental wellbeing. There are high profile cases currently in the media, Prince Harry for example, highlighting that position / title / wealth / education are no barrier for a person’s mental health.

Next week (1st June) sees the start of international Pride month, a celebration by the LGBT+ communities internationally…

Pride Flag

“a movement that celebrates sexual diversity. For lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people it is a way of protesting about discrimination and violence. It promotes their dignity, equal rights, self-affirmation and is a way of increasing society’s awareness of the issues they face

In recent years, as the media has become more ‘open’ in its reporting, the issues faced by many in the LGBT+ community and the detrimental impact on their mental health has become more and more apparent. Whether the fear of discovery by family, friends or colleagues for simply being ‘different’ to them or the pressures caused by being in the public eye and maintaining a facade or forever being questioned on their personal choices. For some, the mental pressures become too great… 

There is no one size fits all solution to the issues of mental health, whether caused by a pandemic, life choice, sexual preference, place of origin or domestic situation. We as a species have much to learn about tolerance and acceptance (in this author’s opinion) and even as you read this, far too many people are impacted by that intolerance.

Perhaps it is as simple as remembering to be kind to one another and to promote kindness in others for the benefit of all.

Volunteers week starts on the 1st of June in the UK. Volunteering is one form of kindness we can show to our community, to our planet and to one another. As a volunteer for my local Scout group, not only do I get great satisfaction from supporting “young people in achieving their full physical, intellectual, social and spiritual potential, as individuals, as responsible citizens and as members of their local, national and international communities”, I also benefit from an enormous uplift in my own mental wellbeing – doing something positive. The British Red Cross are currently partnering with Scouts in the UK to deliver the power of kindness within our communities.

But you don’t need to make a massive commitment such as being a regular volunteer to achieve small gains in positive mental feelings, simple activities such as spending a few hours taking part in the Great British Spring Clean (28 May to 13 June) for example are less time consuming yet a no less impactful way to get out, feel positive and help our environment.

As I have written before, please remember to look out for each other, never be afraid to speak up when you are down and be there for those that need help.

I will leave you with a quote which was highlighted by a vicar friend of mine on social media (there is a whole degree course worth of debate on the impact of this particular media type on mental health!) that I believe is worth considering in this context of mental wellness, support and kindness:

“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

Rick Warren
Toby Gilbertson Customer Services Manager

Toby Gilbertson, Customer Services Manager. May 2021

#mentalhealth #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek #pride #YouMeUsWe #volunteer #Scouts #PowerOfKindness #Litterheroes #MillionMileMission #BeExcellentToEachOther

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