"One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives"
- World Health Organisation
25% is a lot of people. October 10th is about raising mental health awareness. It takes a lot of strength to seek help, to stay positive, and even to get out of bed in the morning. Today, it's also important to remember those who lost their lives to mental illness, to recognise what they went through, and to strive to improve both ourselves and the services available for those who are struggling.
The definition of mental health varies from person to person, and from organisation to organisation. By mixing some definitions from a few organisations with my own additions, I've come up with this:
Mental health refers to how people think, feel, and behave. Mental health is a state of well-being, in where a person can cope with adversities in life, have stable relationships with others, and make choices based on given information.
At the start of lockdown, I posted a blog on Voices of Youth about my experience in lockdown regarding the disruption of my education. At the time, I was really worried about what this would mean for my future. This caused a lot stress and led to a decline in mental health for a lot of students in the UK. Unfortunately, more confusion awaited us when results were released.
Thankfully, I was able to get the grades to carry on with my education, but this was not the case for a lot other students. Many students felt let down by the method used for grade allocation, even if it didn’t affect some of us directly. People were forced to change degrees, go to universities they didn’t initially plan on going to, and others were forced to take an unwanted gap year to take the exams and try to get the grades they deserve all as last minute changes.
No two people face the same adversities in life, and no two people will process things in the same way. By this I mean that if both me and someone else saw the same news coverage, or were equally affected by a major change, we would both react differently. How long afterwards would we think about it? Would we cry? Would it affect the decisions we make a week from now? Or perhaps 10 years down the line?
The point I'm hoping to make here is that there is no 'one size fits all' when it comes to mental health. Sometimes, the activities we undertake from day to day affect us more than it affects other people. It's important to know this and actively implement this knowledge in healthcare, social care, and in our everyday lives.
Although we might not understand the way someone acts, or reacts to certain things, we should all show awareness and empathy.
Despite the strides society has made in reducing the stigma surrounding mental health issues and making it more of a priority for young people and adolescents, we still have a long way to go before the standard we expect of mental health services is made a reality all across the globe.
Mental health is just as important as physical health, this should be reflected by the resources put towards mental health services in every country. These services then need to ensure every child and adolescent in need of mental health support receives it and benefits from it. And finally, we need to advocate for more learning, free resources, and for priority to be given to young people’s mental wellbeing. Every child, regardless of where they live or their financial circumstances, deserves to have access to quality mental health support.