There are times when you just want to close the curtains and curl up shutting the whole world out. Tomorrow is the start of Mental Health Awareness Week and now more than ever we need to recognise when help is needed and make sure it is there.
I have been really open about some of my own battles. There were times when I was growing up that I battled the negative thoughts and the black cloud that would descend over me. It reappears sometimes and often with little warning. Around 12 year ago I was dealing with some difficult things at work and I realise now that I was running away rather than face my demons.
Then three years ago Manchester faced its darkest day and so many people were affected. The families of the 22 people who died had their lives changed forever and many hundreds more were physically and psychologically affected. It was only recently that I started to recognise how it had affected me. I shut it away as I was focused on doing my job but at some point you always have to reopen the box. The experience is why a whole chapter of my Crisis Communication Strategies book is focused on welfare and wellbeing.
When we are going through difficult and turbulent experiences there is always the chance it will leave a lasting impression that is not helpful. The Covid-19 pandemic will leave that impression for many people. They may experience depression, despair, fear and many are dealing with grief. It is truly overwhelming.
Over almost six years I have been trying to improve my mental health through coaching, wellbeing workshops, retraining my brain to be more positive and having counselling. It has not been an easy journey and I have not yet reached the destination. For a long time I would not talk about this sticking to the well-worn phrase ‘I’m fine’ whenever I was asked how things were. We have to do more and remove the stigma.
There is no shame in saying that you are struggling or finding things difficult. One of the positives from the terrible situation we are facing is that we are asking people how they are and really want to know the answer. We have to continue to do this and make it ok to talk about mental health. Supporting each other and bringing the subject into the open, we can make a difference.
My simple message is to speak up if you need help, never judge others and remember wellbeing when going through a crisis.