"Never give up on someone with a mental illness. When “I” is replaced with “we”, illness becomes wellness"- Shannon L. Alder.
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week. An important time to reflect on what we’re doing to improve our own well-being and that of those around us (family, friends, colleagues, neighbours) and to raise awareness of the issues.
Statistics are fairly well-rehearsed. 1 in 4 of us will experience mental health issues each year. Lawyers are often put near the top of the tree in profession-based stats. A recent survey of junior lawyers found that 90% said they were stressed and “under pressure”. 1 in 4 said that their stress levels were “severe” or “extreme”. These figures make headlines and headlines play an important role in prompting discussion.
“It’s good to talk…” In fact, it’s pretty vital for those suffering the most. But more needs to be done in order to properly understand what mental health means, how to improve one’s mental health, how to identify a problem, and giving people the tools and support to overcome a problem/ problems. Mental health and illness is still the less well-understood sibling of physical wellness. It’s equally complicated and personal to the individual. It’s not binary: one is not mentally “well” or “unwell” – most of us experiencing “wellness” on a spectrum which can peak and trough throughout our lives.
Various mental health charities are doing amazing work in helping us to understand these issues. MIND’s website provides fantastic Wellness Tools as well as advice lines for those in need. As does the Welsh mental health and wellbeing charity, Gofal.
The more we can each take the time to learn about the topic, the greater the collective understanding, the more focused actions we can all take to prioritise the issue and help to end the stigma.