In my last post (which, if you haven’t already seen, you should do by clicking here) I went on a short and sweet ramble about the stigma around mental health issues. But, in light of Peer Helpers’ mental health awareness week, I think society’s efforts towards normalizing conversations about mental health and accepting it shouldn’t go unnoticed.
From the same poll which I cited in my last post by Time To Change UK, there’s been a 6.4% improvement in attitudes in the United Kingdom’s about mental health from 2007 to 2014. Although this is obviously a success from beyond our borders, it still merits some applause and hopefully reflects the changing mindset of Americans as well.
Two other people at the forefront of this steady increase in acceptance are First Lady Michelle Obama and The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton. Obama took to Huffington Post in an article titled “Let’s Change the Conversation Around Mental Health” to discuss veterans PTSD, anxiety, and depression in the U.S. Her wide reach and involvement in starting the Campaign to Change Direction which works to educate people and provide useful tools to combat mental health negativity, as well as a few other similar projects all help to raise awareness and understanding. Middleton has also used Huffington Post as a platform to voice her thoughts on mental health awareness in an article titled “Let’s Make a Real Difference for an Entire Generation of Young Children”, specifically in terms of young children, and the launching of Young Minds Matter which focuses on exploring mental health in children.
We all have a long way to go but we aren’t standing still, we’re getting better at changing the conversation around mental health into something positive and productive.
And, lastly, is the increased awareness within the school community. From mental health awareness week, to senior speeches, to Kevin Harrington’s presentation on resilience training, I know that, even if people don’t agree, people know that mental health issues exist and deserve some discussion. The statistic that one in four adults experience mental illness no longer draws gasps from listeners, but frustrated sighs that then form the phrase “So, what can we do about this”. People know what depression, OCD, eating disorders, anxiety, and schizophrenia are – they know that they have names and symptoms and can be treated. Although, not everyone seeks out help, people know it’s there for them should they seek it out.
Yes, we all have a long way to go before mental illness understanding, acceptance and even tolerance eliminates ignorance. But, we aren’t standing still – statistics and observations show me, and everyone, that we’re getting better at changing this conversation.
So, a round of applause for you lovely human beings. Happy mental health awareness week!