With Mental Health Awareness Day approaching (Saturday 10th October) there’s a lot of talk across social media about wellbeing, mental health and how to approach it all – but it’s not always the most beneficial, relevant information.
Mental health can take many forms and manifest differently for everyone, so approaching awareness of this is difficult even for the most self-aware, seasoned mental health advocate.
We know it isn’t easy, so we wanted to lay out some tips and food for thought for anyone reading that may be struggling to cut through the noise.
– Self-discovery is a great first step
Often, when World Mental Health Awareness Day rolls around, there’s content plastered everywhere urging people to speak to their loved ones and to engage in open discussions about their mental health.
It’s well meaning, but for anyone in the early stages of self-discovery, often the vulnerability you can feel is so immense that the prospect of speaking to someone about your mental health seems overwhelming.
I cannot stress this enough – you do not have to speak about your mental health to anyone until you are ready to do so, whether that takes a few months or a few years.
Self-discovery is a way for you to start the process of figuring out what your mental health means to you through others, and there is absolutely nothing more freeing than resonating with other people’s content around mental health and realising you aren’t alone.
Dark Coffee Founder tip? Youtube is a great resource for self-discovery, particularly TedTalks as they cover a wide variety of mental health related topics and experiences!
– Talking is great, but it doesn’t have to be TO someone
‘A problem shared is a problem halved’ isn’t necessarily wrong, but it doesn’t mean you have to jump straight into sharing the details of your mental health with someone.
Starting with something smaller such as journaling is a more reasonable as it’s a way for you to write what you feel, when you feel it without the same intimidation a conversation could bring.
The benefit of journaling is not only being able to write your unfiltered thoughts, but if you keep to it regularly, you may find certain patterns in your mood or potentially start to spot common triggers that you may not have otherwise noticed.
Journaling doesn’t have to be a neat, ordered affair – simply writing how much you want to on any given day is more than enough.
– You are the expert on your own mental health
Don’t listen to Tim on Instagram telling you that depression can be cured through exercise, or Tina who insists going vegan reduced the symptoms of her anxiety; it might be true for them (cough cough) but it probably isn’t for you.
Whilst self-discovery is great, mental health awareness shouldn’t be about you being told what you ‘are’ or ‘should be’.
You are the expert on your own mental health, because you know it best, even if sometimes it might not feel like it.
Rather than feeling obligated to take people’s word for it, or struggling when things that work for other people don’t seem to work for you, acknowledge that it’s a process, and you’re the one who is going through it – not everyone else.
– There’s no such thing as ‘cured mental health’
You can’t see me right now, but even just typing that makes me Gordon Ramsay levels of angry…
No matter how many times I see people plastering their public speaking events all over the internet with words to the effect of ‘I cured my depression and I can help you too’, or ‘I hit rock bottom but now I’m right where I want to be’ all under the banner of telling people how to get rid of their mental health condition – it still enrages me.
It might not sound comforting to say that you cannot cure your mental health, but it’s also easier to swallow than potentially believing that you can/have, only to relapse later on down the line.
Mental health isn’t a static entity, it changes with us and our environment, meaning that at times we might feel like it isn’t even there, and other times relapse can hit us unexpectedly.
It’s completely normal to experience ups and downs, but learning to MANAGE your mental health is far more beneficial than trying to CURE it.
(PSA – if you say that you can ‘cure’ mental health in your Mental Health Awareness post, please reconsider.)
(This picture is here purely for smiling purposes)
If you’re reading this and you are only in the very early stages of learning about and processing your mental health, I commend you!
It isn’t easy to take steps towards informing yourself about your mental health, but small steps can make a huge difference long-term. Even years down the line you can find yourself learning new things about your mental health and that’s completely normal!
If you’d like to hear more about the Dark Coffee Team’s personal mental health experiences and some of our advice, you can check out our Instagram page