‘A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?’ – Albert Einstein
(runner up for quote for this post- ‘One is very crazy when in love’- Sigmund Freud, I’m not sure that there has ever been a bigger understatement made in the history of mankind)
Mental health and well-being is a subject extremely close to my heart. I have seen the devastation and debilitation that mental illnesses and also less severe mental stress/pressure can have on an individual and their lives. From acute stress and anxiety on a day to day basis in the workplace to depression, eating disorders and mood disorders in my circle of dear friends, to the full spectrum in my volunteering with the charity The Samaritans.
I had the privilege of attending a panel discussion held by my workplace, at which the fabulous Ruby Wax was a guest panelist. She spoke honestly and fiercely to a room of eager listeners about her experience and her work into understanding mental illness. I hope that there was plenty of food for thought for the decision makers in the room, because there is a vast divide between the ideal working environment which is truly inclusive and supportive of all and the corporate machine that is in place currently. Change is hard, but I hope that the event really inspired the leaders to lead in this area, where so many big companies are woefully behind.
I’m keen not to waffle on as I am no expert here. However, I want to raise awareness and understanding so here are a couple of things that I think are key and then some places I know where you can get further information for yourself and for others you are worried about:
1. Mental illness is not the same as general day-to-day stress. Of course this is still not great and we should all endeavor to minimise this, but there are medically diagnosable mental health issues which cannot be treated without the help and support of medical professionals
2. Illnesses that fall under mental illnesses: Anxiety disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders, eating disorders, impulse and control disorders, personality disorders, adjustment disorders, dissociative disorders.. the list goes on.
3. 1 in 4 people will suffer with some form of mental health disorder in the course of a year
4. The economic cost of mental illnesses is estimated to be £62 billion each year
5. When you have a illness of any other region of your body aside from your brain, it is your brain that identifies a problem and tries to respond. When your brain is suffering from some form of illness it is unable to identify this, there is no brain to monitor the brain! Which is why suffers may not recognise the symptoms for long period of time or not thing there is anything wrong with them
6. To treat a mental health condition, a professional should be consulted, it is virtually impossible to treat otherwise
Please find support in the following places:
Mental Health Foundation:
Ruby Wax- Sane New World (seperate review on this fantastic book to come!)