Awareness Is Good. Action Is Better.

Do Something Great neon sign
Do Something Great neon sign
Photo by: Clark Tibbs/Unsplash

#Mentalhealthawarenessweek 2021 has offered up a  plethora of wonderfully insightful, thoughtful, and harrowing  stories from people who have suffered from their mental  health, and those who are passionate about raising  awareness of various disorders and illnesses. But is it  enough?  

I have spent this week reading so many stories from people  who have struggled through their mental health issues alone  and have somehow managed to drag themselves to a better place. I have read stories from people who are having to  fight tooth and nail to gain access to services they  desperately need in order to make any progress with their  mental health. 

I have read stories of people who have put in hundreds of  hours of time and effort with therapy, only to have their  access to the service revoked due to budget cuts, leaving  them in a terrifying limbo, alone.

Do you know what the worst part of reading those stories is?  I read them last year too, and the year before. They may  have been told by different people, they may have differed  slightly in the featured disorder, and they may even be set in  a different part of the country, but the same stories, the  same desperate situations have been happening over and  over again for years.  

Awareness weeks are wonderful things, they help to  educate people, they provide a safe space for people to talk  about the issues they face in their lives, they even offer the  chance to create a support group for those who may need it.  But they do not enact meaningful change. 

The truth is, on the whole, we are all reasonably aware that  a quarter of the human race will suffer from their mental  health at some point in their lives. We even know of at least  a handful of mental health conditions that most people could  name off the top of their head if asked. 

We are aware of mental health, that is not the biggest issue  for those who suffer anymore. The biggest problem is that  progress in establishing change on a societal and systemic  level is painfully slow! 

We should certainly never stop discussing mental health  and the struggles people face, we should normalise talking  about it in professional and social settings. We should,  however, be pushing for more meaningful change on a  deeper level. 

We should be actively working to ensure mental health  services are properly funded, that mental health discussions  are made a priority in our schools, that police custody is not  an acceptable option for detaining those in crisis, let alone  the only option! 

Awareness is good. Action is better.

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