STUDENT BLOG: ‘I make a promise to myself: I will be stronger than my sadness’
Steph Gilford, an English Literature Degree student, blogs about Mental Health Day.
Healthy: a word that gets thrown around quite a lot, I think. We talk about being healthy, and keeping fit, and living a healthy lifestyle. Nine times out of ten, we’re referring to the physical form of a person: whether a person is eating the right amount of food, the right types of food, and getting enough exercise. All of those things are easy to talk about and approach in day-to-day conversation. Yet no one asks about mental health, or mental well-being: it remains taboo as it’s something we can’t measure using scales or measuring tapes. It’s something that’s not visible to the naked eye. It can be easy to forget that ‘healthy’ looks completely different on every person and that wellbeing is a matter of what’s right for your body, and your mind.
It’s so easy to ignore what we cannot see. It’s even easier to be scared of what we cannot see. There is an inexplicable need for an increased awareness of mental health, and an understanding of the fact that one size does not fit all with regard to mental wellbeing. Personally, I want to see a world where it is okay for a person to confess that they feel anxious, are taking medication and are having a panic attack without fear of judgement, and without these statements being treated as confessions. I want to see a world where there is enough awareness surrounding mental health that its associated terms are a staple of everyday vocabulary. That is, without the terms being used in a way that categorises them. I want there not to be a perception of normal. I want to be able to talk about mental health and I want to feel okay with that.
So, Thursday 1st March 2018 marked University of Wolverhampton: Mental Health Day. The entire week itself witnessed a wide range of activities taking place across the university, designed to improve awareness and end stigma. Days and weeks such as this one at my university are so helpful for raising awareness. National Mental Health week in the UK takes place in May. I know that weeks that highlight mental health make me feel happy and comfortable. It's as though there are these days and weeks throughout the year where it is more socially acceptable to admit that you're struggling with your mental health. If only there were more days like this. Mental health is something that should be discussed all year long, not just particular days and weeks. It was an absolute pleasure to have taken part in some events at my university and observed others. I had fun practising mindfulness using a drum, observed laughter yoga, and a lovely lady decorated my wrist with henna ink. It was wonderful to see everyone united in raising awareness and speaking out.
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