When you think of mental health, what comes to mind? Take a minute to think about that. In mid-September, people all over Aotearoa, New Zealand observed Mental Health Awareness Week. But what does that mean? We’re aware of mental health and mental health issues, so why do we need awareness? Let me tell you.
Mental health awareness is such an important aspect of mental health as a whole. Most of us all know what mental health means. We have awareness of burn-out, we have awareness of how to support a loved one who may be stressed or down, we hear people’s stories, so why bother with awareness at all? Well, there are many reasons. First and foremost, awareness is all about helping those struggling to feel less alone. It helps to bring more awareness to the many different ways individuals experience mental health and mental illness. It helps others to have the confidence to speak out and seek help, and so much more.
When someone speaks out, it creates change. One story, one person’s unique experiences, helps them to take back their power, and it allows others to feel seen. It could help someone who has had similar experiences to feel less alone and to find hope. Because when we share our stories, it could be all it takes for someone else to open up and seek help.
A big part of mental illness is feeling alone, feeling isolated, feeling ashamed for our experiences, but when we’re able to share what we have gone through in a safe place, it takes away some of the stigma. It starts to normalise talking about difficult things. Things like anxiety and depression, yes, but also talking about topics such as trauma, disordered eating, hallucinations, psychosis, and other symptoms and conditions.
For those wanting to support loved ones with their mental illness, learning about it can offer invaluable insight. For those struggling, it helps to feel less alone and offers a sense of hope.
Voices of Hope wants you to know that you do not have to do this alone. Click here to 'find help' - it's not weak to speak!