In the coming weeks a number of my friends have agreed to be guest bloggers and share their stories of dealing with mental health issues. This is something I am personally passionate about as in 2015 I was diagnosed with having post-traumatic anxiety. This has made life more difficult and complicated for me as well as my family. My goal through these series of posts is to help lift the lid of mental health and encourage those that may struggle or have a friend or family member that struggles. I’d love it if you would consider sharing these upcoming posts through your social media with the hope of encouraging as many people as possible through the stories of my brave friends.
In this post I’d like to start the conversation with a general overview of mental health and take a snapshot of different approaches people take in dealing with mental health conditions. In the coming weeks a few of my friends will share their stories and insights in the hope it encourages many.
MENTAL HEALTH DEFINED
Mental health is often defined as, ‘a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.’ Additionally ‘Beyond Blue’ (a mental health support organization) points out on their website (https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/what-is-mental-health),
“According to the World Health Organization, however, mental health is “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
So rather than being about ‘what’s the problem?’ it’s really about ‘what’s going well? So when speaking of conditions such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and the like, Beyond Blue would categorize these as ‘mental health conditions’. However you define it, mental health is paramount to one’s quality of life. When someone suffers with any type of condition and to any degree it has the ability to affect his or her whole life. According to Beyond Blue over 3 million Australians are currently suffering with some form of anxiety or depression. That’s a large number of our fellow countrymen and women struggling with their quality of life.
APPROACHES TO MENTAL HEALTH
Weakness – People with this approach completely dismiss mental health conditions as genuine. Rather they consign them as weakness on the part of the person struggling.
Warrant – People with this approach view mental health conditions as an excuse used by many to avoid dealing with real issues of life or even to escape hard work. Anytime something of significant effort comes up the person claiming mental health conditions throw the, ‘anxiety or depression’ card down.
Whatever – People with this approach may not necessarily look down on someone claiming mental health issues rather they simply wipe their hands of acknowledging its legitimacy due to their lack of understanding. They may not rule out these conditions from the realm of possibility, but have not experienced themselves and therefore they ‘just don’t get it’.
Warmth – People with this approach sympathize while not experiencing mental health conditions first hand. They readily acknowledge the struggle is real and difficult and move towards those struggling with compassion. Often they are close to someone dealing with these conditions or have previously struggled themselves.
Wrestle – People with this approach have been or still are in the heat of the battle. They personally wrestle with these conditions on a day-to-day basis. The wrestle is real.
Regrettably I used to fall into the first approach. While not vocalizing my opinion publically, I definitely thought those that struggled just needed to toughen up mentally. They were just weak. Looking back I can see this came through in my approach when counseling others. My motivation was good, my overly simplistic approach was uninformed and naïve. I’ll leave my personal story for a later post but in short, one day in 2015 everything changed for me as I came crashing down. Hopefully I now sit in the ‘warmth’ approach as I continue to wrestle with my own struggle each and every day.
I guess we call this being humbled 🙂
Up next will be my friends and their stories. I hope this either helps move you towards warmth and compassion to those that struggle or helps you to continue your wrestle with hope.