Mental illness affects millions of people the world-over
and while the stigma of mental illness is fading, there is still much that can be done to raise public awareness. It’s easy to categorize mental health issues in the extreme, to think of them as something that affects others, but mental illness is a major factor, impacting, on average, 1 in 4 people in the UK alone, not counting their families and the resulting stresses.
This year, Mental Health Awareness Week, which first began in the year 2000, is concentrating on ‘Relationships’. The need for good relationships can be just as important to health and well-being as stopping smoking, eating well and exercising.
As we all know, depression is a world-wide recognized illness and can affect people from all walks of life for a multitude of reasons. In all likelihood a member of your own family does or has suffered from depression in the past. And while it’s easy to step aside and not get involved, people suffering from this debilitating illness can be helped, often by the simplest of things. Affection, is key to caring. We see it day-in, day-out with mother and child, parents and grandparents.
If you are so inclined, and many are, you could host a wellbeing event – something to raise awareness and spark conversation about mental health and relationships. All around the country people are taking part, from fishing with friends to Secret Santa’s (I know, it’s not even Crimbo yet), from cake sales and flash mobs to Zumbathon’s (it’s a dance from Brazil, don’t ask).
There’s even an option to embark on a sponsored walk of some sort. There’s the Great Wall of China Trek and the Kilimanjaro Trek, but if they’re a little too far afield for you, why not try the London2Brighton Challenge or the Thames Path Challenge. Run a marathon, sky dive, cycle.It’s all out there, waiting for you.
You can do darn near anything you like. An event that struck us at Medical Travel Compared as particularly powerful is this one, hosted by the Plymouth Arts Centre in Devon - ‘The Things I could Never Say’;
“Sometimes words fail us, even to those we love the most and hold closest. We want to celebrate MHAW by offering you the chance to say all the things you could never say. Parents, daughters, brothers and partners, come and write a letter to your loved one in the peaceful setting of our gallery. This event is for everyone, but especially If you have suffered from post-natal depression, an infant loss, or struggle with vocalising how you feel to those you love because of mental ill health. You are all welcome.”
So whatever you chose to do to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, remember, think about your friends and family; call them, spend time with them and appreciate them.
If you are making the most of social media, here are the relevant hashtags
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