I've been reading a few books about mental health lately; specifically around children's mental health. I often struggle with labels being placed on children in particular. It is a double edged sword for me, because having a mental health problem 'named' means that a parent/carer/educator has an explanation for the child's behaviour and will hopefully receive support. However, once a child is labelled with for example ADHD they might been seen as having a disability that limits their capacity to make a positive contribution to school (or society in general). I appreciate this is the worst case scenario, however I have experienced it happen with people I have counselled. There is still, unfortunately, a lot of negative bias towards mental health problems.
I've talked before with many people about whether some mental health problems aren't necessarily illnesses. If it isn't wholly an illness (and I appreciate some mental health problems are indeed an illness), then the burden of responsibility for the distress in our lives should not be entirely shouldered by doctors or mental health specialists. What I mean is that we should all take some responsibility, not matter how small, to support our own wellbeing and to support the people in our lives who live with mental health problems. We all have the ability to learn and share that learning...
Mental health problems are also connected to the conditions in which we live (or have lived - a persons history/trauma) as much as they are connected to our biology (for example, personality traits). There is also the question of culture, the cultural beliefs of a specific society. There are many well documented changes in the Western culture which include family structure, lifestyle, social media, education, but to name a few. Society still assumes that the intelligent, the strong, those perceived to be mentally 'normal' rise to the top and those at the bottom of the social ladder are assumed stupid or lazy. Thankfully things are changing in this space, slowly. Finally, science can and does present many different views to mental health problems, take ADHD for example, some would evidence that a child (or adult) needed medication, some would evidence that it was nutritional imbalance and some would evidence it is a personality trait. It's complicated when you start boiling it down isn't it?
Mental health is complex, many people still believe that medication and indeed therapy is the 'quick fix'. It takes as long as it takes to support a person with their mental health problems, no one size fits all, we are all unique and we all have different experiences and values/beliefs. You cannot put a timeline on supporting someone who lives with mental health problems. Life will also always 'get in the way', so it is important when supporting someone with a mental health problem to share techniques so that they can become self sufficient during these times. It's important for me to provide the tools and techniques to the people I support so that they have resilience; because life will always throw curveballs!
Talking about mental health so openly is making a huge difference. I've mentioned the 'Happy Place' podcasts I've been listening to where Ferne Cotton brings on guests that open up about their journeys with mental health and what is working for them. It makes a difference knowing you're not alone with some of the thoughts and emotions you struggle with.
Helping each other is key. It is so important for me in my practice to share techniques that my clients can pass on to others, because seriously, taking care of our own mental health doesn't need to be 'rocket science' it is quite simple when you find something that works for you and you put it into your daily practice. No matter how you are feeling or what thoughts are running through your mind there is something out there that will work for you, that will bring back control and balance in your life.
So if you are struggling, talk about it, ask for help... you're not alone. I offer a number of reduced rate sessions and free sessions. You just need to find that courage to ask, because 'Mental Health Matters'.
Much Love Jo xxxx