News & views
Mental Health: Ranieri AgencyDate Posted: 12 May, 2020
You’re NOT ‘mental’
When someone says, “‘That’s mental”, it’s usually meant in a derogatory way to say something is so messed up and crazy. In fact, I admittedly used the word myself recently to describe Trump supporters. It has so many negative connotations, that to admit you have mental health problems or issues that fall in this category would be tantamount to admitting to everyone that you’re actually ‘crazy’. Therein lies an intrinsic stigma around the subject straight away.
However mental health, like environmental and plastics related issues has increasingly garnered more media attention over the last few years, in no small part to well-known figures speaking up about their own experiences, ranging from Professor Green to Princes William and Harry.
We know the problem exists and ergo we need to do something about it, but what we CAN do, what we SHOULD do and what we NEED to do, is where there are varying opinions. The cheesy phrase “One size does NOT fit all”, could not be more apt here.
Do we treat the root cause? Social media could be seen as one of those causes. Whilst it’s a modern panacea to connecting and communicating with people nowadays, its importance highlighted none more so than in the light of Covid-19 isolation we’ve all been facing, it’s also a medium within which insecurities can breed quicker than a brood of bunnies. However, given there are so many triggers and vectors for this, it would be difficult to identify them all succinctly.
Educating people about boundaries, etiquette, warning signs and essentially social norms on social media would seem prudent, in as much as we are schooled on how to physically interact with one another when growing up.
What about treating the effect? Unlike a physical affliction to which there are usually more black and white treatment routes you can take, mental health blurs the lines a lot more. People can often empathise with someone in physical pain than those in mental anguish, by virtue of sight. You see someone limping in a plaster cast and can immediately relate to it.
It’s very difficult to relate to someone’s mental anguish, especially when it’s not something you’ve ever experienced or even thought about. For example, how does someone from a working-class background empathise with someone who is rich, big house, sports car – everything society tells us to aspire to – but who then feels like committing suicide. Mental health problems are not really comparable with someone else’s, they are unique and personal to the individual and that’s what makes it difficult to illiterate and treat.
Feeling a sense of freedom to talk about issues in a non-judgemental environment is key to this. I could relay in detail the plethora of problems I’ve suffered within the past, but you can’t make comparisons like that. Everyone deals with different emotions in varying ways and it’s how we can help support someone through that and facilitate a way out.
Most of the time it’s not an overnight solution. As with losing weight or learning a language, it takes time, practice and the resolve to stick with it. Just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re failing.
#ICYMI Pietro’s Podcast:
Watch Pietro’s talks to Simon Gunning, CEO of CALM, about how agencies can support mental health through the Covid-19 lockdown:
My advice, which may sound obvious, is to TALK TALK TALK (not the next generation broadband provider kind). You might think people will get bored of hearing you complain, that it will make you look weak or wearisome in the eyes of others, but ultimately by not speaking up you are walking a Penrose staircase to nowhere, which is self-defeating.
You don’t always have to talk about what’s concerning you. Sometimes we can need a break from life – laughter and light-hearted topics can also help in this regard, as can checking in with a mate for a natter about anything and everything.
When it comes to employers and people in general, don’t just use vacuous words of support. It’s very easy to say you want to help but not follow that through in the long-term. Taking a more individual and personal approach to help is one of the most important things you can do.
If you feel there’s no one you can entrust in your social circle, there are a number of support organisations like CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), who have a number of resources and call lines available daily. Connect with other people – relationships are important as a physical activity which will help your general health as a whole. Try to pay attention to the present moment around things that you can change or affect, and ultimately remember you are not alone. There are people who can and want to help.