The stress of Covid combined with the movement to a minimal social life and more time alone, has increased poor mental health across the world. In 2014, it was estimated that 1 in 6 adults in the UK suffered from a common mental health problem every week . With no recent statistics, but a worldwide increase in stress, we can only assume this ratio has worsened. Many people suffering from poor mental health but who may have been able to keep it below the surface, struggle to do that now. Just in this past month I’ve had more than three friends reach out to me to tell me that they aren’t doing okay– something they’ve never done before.
So what is “poor mental health”? A lot of people get confused when it comes to the terminology. You don’t have to be huddled in the fetal position, crying, to have poor mental health– it could mean that you’re extremely stressed out, that you have little motivation, that you get mad easily, or that you’re simply unhappy. It can last hours, days, months, or years. And everyone has it at one time or another.
With the state of the world as it is, I would say that every single person can improve their mental health. It’s truly okay to not be okay. It’s NORMAL. It’s ROUTINE. We’re humans with emotions that we can’t always explain and it makes sense if those emotions are elevated and even more confusing right now.
Even those closest to us can be hurting, but not want to admit it. They want to put on a good face for others and not show that they’re vulnerable. I know this, because I’ve been there and I spent years battling my own poor mental health… in high school and undergraduate University I struggled a lot. I learned through those years of trial and error what I needed to do to cope and heal… and I think it oddly prepared me for this pandemic. I still have bad days or bad weeks, but I know how to manage my mental health now. With that management and understanding, I decided to become a mental health care responder, and I’m now certified to be the first step for people in need.
I’ve tried therapy with multiple therapists, but I’ve found that my own discoveries have done the most growth for me. When I was at one of my lowest points, I happened upon a book that absolutely changed my perspective on life: “The Year of Living Danishly” by Helen Russell. I cannot recommend this enough. It isn’t a self-help book, it’s her story about finding happiness. Through the hidden messages in her story, I’ve learned and grown and now consider myself 9/10 happy– not where I was before I started flipping through those pages.
I went from a 3/10 and poor mental health to mental health management and a 9/10. I can respond when people need help and I do archaeology work with veterans to help get them on a road to recovery. That’s my story. It’s okay to have yours. Spread a little extra love and care today.
For more directed guidance, speak to a mental health first responder or mental health advisor and they can point you to services in your area.
If you want to help someone, you must be willing to confront your own mental health and create a safe space for others first. Most likely someone you know is currently suffering. Think before you speak, there are tender ears everywhere.
- McManus S, Bebbington P, Jenkins R, Brugha T. (eds.) (2016) Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014. Leeds: NHS Digital. Available at: http://content.digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB21748/apms-2014-full-rpt.pdf