by Greg Hire
Mental Health Week in Western Australia spans from October 9-16. Within that time frame, the entire globe also observes World Mental Health Day on Thursday, October 10. A full week dedicated to learning about mental illness and sharing invaluable information and resources. A whole day, recognised by everyone around the world, spent talking about our mental health and sharing our journeys despite the stigma that still exists.
We flourish in human connection when we are able to drop our guard and invite others in. In that moment of vulnerability, we have someone walking alongside us, someone who might not fully understand our experience but are on our team, willing to show up for us.
This has to be a collective effort. No matter what these barriers look like for you, we have to come together and talk about them so we can collectively strike them down. One of the reasons why I think it’s important to talk about mental health more collectively is because it affects us all, regardless of who we are and where we come from. We have to raise our voices loud enough to silence shame. We must strive to be more empathetic because shame cannot thrive where empathy lives, and we can only do this by inviting each other into our stories.
Although these weeks and days are powerful and far-reaching, our mental health does not designate itself to a single time slot. Struggles like depression, anxiety, addiction, and bipolar disorder pay no mind to the date; they don’t abide by calendars or schedules. So while we are eager to participate in and grateful for these days to shed light on the topic of mental illness on a global scale, I know that your challenges neither start nor stop here. It is our hope that this week as we talk, educate, and share, you and so many others will be encouraged and inspired to keep mental health, your mental health, at the forefront no matter what day it is.
Now... on Saturday a friend asked me, “What exactly are you fighting for?” The question surprised me and it took a second to answer.
“We’re campaigning for people to be honest and get help and stay alive.”
That was my answer. And it doesn’t end tonight. It didn't stop at midnight on Saturday with the close of Mental Health Week.
Perhaps more than anything else, our goal is conversations. It’s people talking to other people about their pain. It’s people finding hope and strength and encouragement in the community around them. It’s someone who is struggling, talking to a counsellor, beginning the process of healing. It’s someone walking into a treatment centre. It’s a call to a support seeking service – someone choosing to stay alive, and choosing not to be alone.
None of this ends. Mental Health Week was a taste. It was a start. We keep going and we go together. We lean on people and we invite people to lean on us. We ask honest questions and we give honest answers. We ask for help, because we know that it’s okay to ask for help.
Above all else, we choose to stay. We choose to fight the darkness and the sadness, to fight the questions and the lies and the myth of all that’s missing. We choose to stay, because we are stories still going. Because there is still some time for things to turn around, time for surprises and for change. We stay because no one else can play our part.
Life is worth living.
Because I, and A Stitch in Time believe: You matter. Your story matters. It is okay to talk about your struggles. It is okay to ask for help.