As world mental health day is today, I can’t think of a better time to put pen to paper or rather fingers to keyboard to talk about mental health heroes. I wrote much of this blog on the way down to London where I was attending the first Global Ministerial Mental Health conference, however whilst there I heard a speech from author Matt Haig. In this speech he also spoke about mental health heroes, creepy eh? However, this speech led me to rethink some of what I had wrote and here I am on my journey home, editing to try and get the messy thoughts in my head into some sort of organised blurb. To try and help another young person out there, cause thats what I like to do.
On Friday 5th October, YMHM ran its second annual conference. Whilst the day was a success, filled with proactive discussion and learning on Mental Health, it isn’t what this blog is about. Instead I wanted to talk about mental health heroes. Those people that often go unnoticed in our society. Despite the fact that they deserve so much.
At the conference I discussed mental health with so many people, young people and adults alike, some school students, some working in the mental health ‘industry’ and many teachers. And what stood out to me most was the mental health superheroes that these people had met. Whether it be there friends, there family or a teacher, nearly everyone who told me a story could remember the one person who was there for them most, in there time of need.
It reminded me of one of my favourite quotes:
“Helping one person may not change the whole world, but it can change their world”
For someone suffering with there mental health, simply being there for them can make a massive difference. I know its a scary thought if your the person trying to help though. I myself worry that I am not responsible enough, or educated enough to help many of my friends with their mental health. I am not a therapist, or a doctor but I CAN provide a helping hand in some very simple ways. And this is what the superheroes in the stories I heard did.
However, before I continue to talk about this, it is important here to take note of the words of Matt Haig. His speech on Tuesday (video link of some below) reminding me, of the important fact that whilst many of us have a mental health superhero, more often than not that superhero can be ourselves. We may not appreciate this at the time, but when suffering from mental health, something as simple as going to a local shop, can be a heroic act in itself. Because lets face it when your struggling to get out of bed, going to buy some milk, can be harder than running a marathon. And so whilst, this blog talks of being someone else hero, remind yourself that you too are a hero to yourself. For being here, for fighting. And I for one am proud.
Now, back to the point of being someones hero!
Whilst running around at the conference like a headless chicken, the stories I heard brought a smile to my face and reminded me why I want to do the work I do. They also reminded me of the following: No-one should be left without someone. No-one should have to go through mental health alone. There is always something we can do. Sometimes that is simply to talk.
The number of teachers I spoke to who were terrified they weren't doing enough upset me. For many pupils suffering mental health, they are a lifeline and if I could shout their praises from the rooftops I would. So whilst this blog post is not only to remind you of the difference you can make, it is also to prompt you to think of those who make a difference to you. Perhaps it’s not in mental health; maybe it’s a sports coach who’s helped you through an injury or a friend that was there when you failed a test at school. But everyone will have people in their life doing the little things that keep them on the right path or steer them back to it if they have got a little lost. It is SO important to remember that when you look back those people will be the ones that you remember that helped you blossom. So don’t forget to take the chance to remind them. Let them know that they are doing more than enough. Because they are sometimes just as terrified as you.
The subject of helping someones mental health I know can be met with hesitation. The stigma although improving is not completely eradicated, and some people are simply scared that by getting involved they could make things worse but if there’s ONE thing I can say it is this:
Remember it doesn't take professional knowledge; it doesn't take a degree in medicine or psychology. For someone who's suffering from a mental illness, often all they want is someone their holding their hand through it all. Someone there ask how their day is going. Someone who's not going to judge them for saying how they are feeling. Someone who shows they that there are people who love them and cares for them. Someone to remind them, it will be ok. Because, it will.
There are no superpowers that will fix a mental illness. But there are, for so many people superhero’s who make everyday that bit easier.
And that superhero could be you.