Yesterday, 10th October 2019, was World Mental Health Day and social media was aflood with people sharing messages of support, care, and availability to talk should friends need to turn to them. It was heart-warming to read some of the stories that people had gone through difficulties and how they’d turned the corner.
Many people have troubles in their life and mental health is starting to have the stigma removed as more people talk openly about struggles and conditions that affect them. This helps others see that they aren’t alone but there are others who know how they feel and there are others there to help and be there for them.
Phrases like ‘it’s ok to be not ok’ and status updates saying that their door is always open for their friends and anyone in help all sound great. It would be wonderful if people truly were this open to being approached and making themselves available to those in need. Unfortunately, I fear that this isn’t the case.
How long will it be before some of those people posting these phrases go up to people stood on their own and start conversations? How long before they make themselves to be there for others and step away from their echo chambers and regular social groups? How long before they identify behaviours and their habits that are inhibiting others from joining in? How long before inclusion is something that is their responsibility and not someone else’s?
Other people’s mental health isn’t just THEIR issue. It isn’t just up to THEM to approach others and to reach out for help. It’s everyone’s responsibility in society to be available and to promote inclusivity. If we see someone on their own, we can choose to say hello to them, or we can choose to ignore them. If you are that person, you may be anxious or nervous about approaching a group of people to get involved. If someone from a group comes up to you being interested in you and including you, you instantly feel better about yourself. It is within all of our gift to be inclusive towards others.
Small groups of friends are sometimes seen as cliquey and impenetrable to outsiders. Is that the image that you want?
Sometimes the body language of a group of people comes across as overpowering and lacking inclusivity. Is that the image that you want?
Is there something that can be done about that? Yes, there is!
Making ourselves aware of our surroundings and who is on the outside of it is a key thing to challenging lack of inclusiveness. Are there regular activities within community groups that happen that could be opened up to others? Could others get involved by offering skills or abilities that would help them and help share out workloads?
There is so much that can be done to ensure that others who are suffering or are feeling excluded don’t have to feel like that. Our actions and our behaviours impact others and this is a great opportunity to make sure that by thinking of World Mental Health Day it can become a chance for us to be more inclusive and be there for people outside of our normal social circle more often. That would be a much better thing to take forward from this than a status update that drifts down a timeline.
As I like to say, whilst it’s ok to be not ok, it’s not ok for US to let OTHERS not be ok.