It’s World Mental Health Day on 10th October, but what does that mean? This year the theme’s Making Mental Health and Wellbeing For All a Global Priority - it aims to draw attention to how we can support those who are disproportionately affected by poor mental health and address some of the disparities, stigma and discrimination. Things like age, income, ethnicity, sexuality and disability all feature in the statistics of who’s worst affected – along with growing socio-economic inequalities, fuelled by conflict and emergencies.
World Mental Health Day and the awareness it raises can only be a good thing, right? How does it help, though? If there’s fundraising, where does that money go and what does it fund that can actually help people or change things?
This site MentalHealth.org.uk goes some way to explaining what kinds of activities are undertaken by the Mental Health Foundation. They conduct research into what jeopardises mental health and use those findings to recommend activities and programmes in communities at risk. Here’s some information about what they’ve done to help in the past year. Most of us will have heard of Mind, the mental health charity. Their site has information about how to get involved and help, plus how to access their services.
What Does it Mean for You?
Our 24 hour, highly-connected world can be very stressful and for some time now there has been a growing disconnect between physical and mental health. Sometimes, we can feel something intangible tugging at our sleeve and we become aware it’s time to step away from the noise. Occasionally, our mental health and wellbeing needs can abruptly slap us in the face and become impossible to ignore or to brush over - stamping their feet and demanding immediate attention while we struggle to navigate our basic circumstances. We have all experienced these moments when we legitimately need to take time out, but the stigma associated with seeming unable to “cope” still seems very real.
However, while lockdowns and new hybrid working conditions can sometimes exacerbate poor mental health, they have also provided a catalyst to bring mental health to the forefront of our minds. Employers and our peers are gradually seeing that stress, depression and anxiety are as real and debilitating as, say a migraine, a bout of flu or a broken leg. Many organisations and businesses are seriously trying to support employees better. Our mental health should be something we’re very conscious of and that we take care to look after, because there are consequences if we don’t. If we understand what boosts it and are lucky enough to be able to schedule in the little things that help, then we really should make sure we do. Being kind to ourselves and making time for our own needs becomes all the more important, as the world speeds up around us.
The problem is, it’s such an individual thing - our personal limits and individual maintenance strategies are so unique to each one of us, that a lot of the time, the talk on mental health related sites can seem like nothing useful. Luckily, there are a lot of excellent bloggers out there who are sharing their experiences, to help us understand we’re not alone. Their understanding and insight is a fantastic resource and there’s such a wide range of takes on various conditions and therapies that it’s hard to know where to start reading – I started with the generic ‘Top 10’ lists, where hopefully we all can find something to suit our needs. Take a look at:
35 Best Mental Health Blogs and Websites
We also know that we work in a particularly stressful industry with intense deadlines and high demands, so it’s good to know that there are resources out there tailored specifically to supporting you in that environment. Why not take a tea break and have a look at some of them:
ScreenSkills - Introduction to Mental Health Awareness at Work
VES - Reignite Yourself Webinar Series
15 Mental Health Tips for VFX and video game artists
Don’t forget you have a voice, so use it and speak up, you will find you are not alone.