by Greg Hire
A different kind of inner view: World Mental Health Day
10th of October; a day that resonates with me in a strong manner. A day that is gathering momentum as ‘World Mental Health Day’.
But for as many as 450 million people around the world, it wont just be ‘Mental Health Day’ on the 10th October. It will still be mental health day for them tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.
For those 450 million people, today’s spotlight on mental health hasn’t made their darkness any lighter. Their hope is that it’s made the depth of that darkness more visible; it’s character more evident; its blackness more tangible; its presence more acceptable. Most Australians would be surprised to know that when it comes to the complex mental health conditions, according to the national mental health commission, we're looking at around 690,000 Australians who are living with it on a daily basis. And then if we think, for each of those people there's another five people directly affected- be it friends, family or work colleagues. All up that's about four million Australians each year affected in some way by complex mental illness
The world is changing – but slowly. Stigma and ignorance are gradually being chipped away by greater knowledge and understanding – but will they be eradicated? Maybe not in our lifetime. And maybe not in the lifetime, gone too soon, of those 1 million people every year, whofeel like suicide is the only option that they have left, the only chance at peace they’ll ever have. It’s as if something will always be missing and life will never be quite right.
The world is changing – there is a World Mental Health Day – but it won’t change in a day. It won’t change because of a day.
It will change because every day those who are fighting the battle that no one quite comprehends reaches out and shares their darkness with each other. Those who share their experiences can not only help each other but also furthermore educate those that don’t quite understand. We need to embrace those that share their stories- it enables them to open up a little of their darkness to those who do not share it, and to risk being truly seen. And the more they risk being truly seen, the less alien their thoughts seem. The world will change because 450 million people can’t be wrong – though they may feel like ‘wrong people‘ to their core.
If you’re not one of those 450 million people, go out on Mental Health Week and educate yourself. Read about mental health; learn about it; talk to someone with mental health difficulties; raise awareness; give generously, in whatever way you can.
And for the other 364 days of the year – share the view. Let us share the view(s), if not the sights. Let us see together, if not as one. Let people’s darkness be a revelation and let your acceptance be their light. That’s how we turn World Mental Health Day into every day. Until we no longer need a day in which to try and understand that we’re all living life on the very same ledge, but with a different vantage point. Until we realise that it’s not the colour of our souls that differentiates the darkness from the light, but just the axis on which our world is spinning.
Try and understand Mental Health every day…and not just on October 10th each year.