The 10th of October is World Mental Health Day.
This year, the focus of World Mental Health Day is mental health at work. Stigma is still a problem for many people at work. They are afraid to disclose their mental health condition for fear of discrimination – because that’s what stigma really is. I’m as guilty as the next person for buying into a work culture that forces us to push push push. Not only can this be exhausting (and bad for our mental health!), but it also means that at work, we can take a long time to realise and admit mental ill-health lest it be seen as a sign of failure, of inability to keep up.
As a culture, we’ve got much better at opening up about depression, anxiety and low mood. Many workplaces actively encourage people to recognise these signs, through wellness programs, employee assistance programs, and even mental health first aid training. But I think we still have a long way to go to open up about and accept the full range of mental health conditions. For example, how would you feel if you asked R U OK? and your colleague opened up about their experience of psychosis? For many, it’s still a scary unknown. That’s why we need World Mental Health Day to open up these conversations.
Every year, Mental Health Australia encourages people to get online and make their mental health promise, so in the spirit of 10/10, here are ten of mine:
- I promise to speak up about my own experiences, and to never be ashamed of my story.
- I promise to keep talking even about the things people find uncomfortable, like diagnoses, medication and treatment.
- I promise to ask ‘R U OK?’ and be ready for the answer, whatever it might be.
- I promise to be a strong and caring ally to other people with mental ill-health.
- I promise to continue conversations about mental wellbeing, not just mental illness. Everyone has mental health.
- I promise to learn more about mental health, the ‘system’ and how to improve it.
- I promise to keep making policymakers listen to people with lived experience.
- I promise to reach out to people who experience marginalisation to ensure their voices are heard in this conversation too.
- I promise to take the time I need to rest and recharge.
- I promise to be kind to myself.