By Shefa Ali
The month of October is full of awareness; it’s breast cancer awareness month, dental hygiene month, domestic violence month, disabilities employment awareness month, Halloween safety month and liver awareness month.
Awareness is a great start, but my question is: What happens after the month is over? Raising awareness isn’t usually enough to deal with the issue.
This week following the tragedy in Lebanon, as usual people change their profile picture on Facebook, or Instagram ‘thoughts and prayers’, some even sign petitions. Actions such as these are definitely 100% well intended, but all it really achieves is making the individual feel better because they’ve ‘ done something’, its given one a sense of achievement, by putting something ‘out there’.
But if we are really honest it changes nothing. People feeling like they’ve done something when the reality is we are no closer to resolving the situation can be in some way counterproductive when dealing with world issues that affect so many people such as mental health, because once people feel they have done something, its means its less likely they will feel motivated to do something else. Something that can possibly make real lasting change.
Mental health awareness is awesome, but action is what’s desperately needed. Awareness is great for encouraging those with mental health issues to go after expert help, but it’s pointless if there’s no help available, that’s where the real problems is. Just like we saw in the movie the Joker, with cuts in budget and mental health services all around the world who do people turn to.
Raising awareness is just the start of the process, by no means the end. There’s a lot of work that needs doing after the initial awareness phase. And that’s something we should all think about.
I am not saying by any means that I have the answers to these major world crises. I just know that we need to come together to find solutions that are practical and that we can stick with, to stop this epidemic spiralling out of control.
Until then, I am going to take Michael Jackson’s advice and start with the Man in the Mirror. Especially when it comes to mental health. I think mental health has been positioned all wrong; we have made it sound scary, dark and evil. The human psyche is very fragile; we saw that demonstrated in the Joker, by the time I left the movie I wished we could come up with a solution to this issue.
From now on I am going to refer to it as mental happiness, it makes it feel lighter and something I want to invest in.
If you have any thoughts on this topic I would love to hear them, you can DM me on Instagram.
The author is a consultant and coach. Instagram handle: @miss_shefa, Website: missshefa.com
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