Our Mental Health Week: Maintaining momentum beyond this week
It’s never too late to become an activist
Mental health awareness is vital to making our world a happier and more accepting place.
However, a fear that I always have at the end of awareness days and weeks is that as soon as the clock strikes midnight, people forget about the problem.
For most people, activism – and mental health activism in particular – isn’t part of their daily lives. They care about problems and share things on social media when such issues are in the news, but this is as far as their activism goes.
Now, I’m not trying to say that this is wrong or not good enough, as often a little goes a long way; however, we need to ensure that just because Our Mental Health Week has come to end, the conversation surrounding mental illness and wellbeing doesn’t follow suit.
In my utopian world, everyone would be an activist and the world would be a kinder place. In this world we would also all have pet unicorns but, alas, I know this is highly unlikely ever to be the case.
Nonetheless, there are small steps everyone can take to make their own little corners of this planet a nicer place to live.
This week has demonstrated the University of Sheffield’s incredible capacity to inspire change.
With talks on ‘Masculinity and Mental Health’ to workshops tackling ‘Alcohol, Drugs and Mental Health’ – there have been so many opportunities to open up the conversation surrounding mental illness and challenge the stigma.
We need to maintain this momentum for mental health activism and ensure that all this hard work doesn’t lose traction and fade into the background.
This is why I urge you to get involved with mental health activism in any way you can.
For example, you can join the Mental Health Matters Society, write articles for The Tab, become a mental health spokesperson within a sports team or society, or approach your department to see how they can help the cause.
There are so many ways to make an impact in the world of mental health, you just have to seek them out and commit to making a change.
Find what you’re passionate about
Mental health is multi-faceted and not every area appeals to everyone.
Whether you know someone who has been affected by a mental illness or if you’ve experienced one yourself, there’s never been a better time to join the cause and really make a difference.
Work out which area of mental health you’re passionate about and do what you can to change the conversation around that subject.
With campaigns from body positivity to alcohol awareness, mental health is so much more than what you see on the news.
Everyone has a relationship with their own mental health, regardless of whether you have struggled with a mental illness, so I urge you to be the change you want to see in the world and use your voice for good.
Never stop talking
There’s always a niggling thought in the back of my mind that I talk about things I care about too much.
I often think I post too many articles and campaigns on social media, and I worry that weaving mental health awareness into conversations is annoying.
But then I remember that talking and sharing has helped me and so many other people feel more confident about addressing their struggles – so I try to silence that niggling thought.
You can never talk too much about problems in the world that need changing.
Activism is invaluable and has positively affected the lives of millions of people from all walks of life.
In the world of mental health, activism has quite literally changed laws and medicine and multi-national corporations.
Simply through talking about the issue, we have been able to make a change.
Mental health awareness is so much more than just a day where we post on social media and sign petitions, it’s one of the most pressing problems facing our generation.
So please never think that you’re “prattling on” about mental health, or anything else you’re passionate about for that matter, because the only way to maintain the momentum and inspire positive change is to keep the conversation going.