What is mental health awareness day and why is it important?
World Mental Health Day aims to raise awareness in the global community around mental health ‘with a unifying voice through collaboration with various partners’. In 2020, taking care of our mental health is more important than ever before. The months of lockdown and loss have had a huge impact on us all, and prioritising mental health has never been more necessary than it is now.
Coronavirus (Covid-19) is impacting all our lives, and we know that the usual advice might not quite apply. Some ideas for looking after yourself may feel unrealistic right now. And some treatment and support options will be harder to access, or may be unavailable for a while. But we hope that you can still find information here that helps you understand what you're going through, and find a path forward.
You can also find lots of resources in the Mind coronavirus information hub. And their page of coronavirus useful contacts can direct you to more support
Stuff you can do/get involved in…
We all know that exercise is a good coping mechanism for poor mental health, but in practice it can be really hard to do, especially in London. Enter Run Talk Run. Its founder, Jess Robson, found she could be more open about her depression outdoors running than in therapy and started a no-pressure safe space to talk and do light exercise. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never jogged before, or if you don’t own anything that could remotely be described as ‘exercise gear’. Just put on some trainers and comfy clothes and head to your nearest meet point (you can find out what that is on the website).
If you’re interested in finding out more about personal experiences with mental illness, Watch ‘I made this for you’ - a film tackling mental health, depression and suicide, dedicated to someone who took their life.
How can you show your support?
You could donate to a mental health charity of your choice. If you’re not sure exactly who to donate to (and let’s face it, sometimes it can be hard to know!) here is a list of good ones that cover a range of mental health struggles, from anxiety to bipolar disorder.
If you can’t afford to do this, don’t worry - there’s a way to raise money for mental health charities without spending a penny. Download the fantastic Tab for a Cause plugin (it’s free obvs) which loads a small unobtrusive advert every time you open a new tab on your internet browser. The ad opens on the tab page itself, meaning that it’s not annoying and there are no popups you have to click out of. The revenue these ads accumulate can then be donated to a charity of your choice. The Tab for a Cause code is all open source, so you can be sure it’s legit.
The international symbol for mental health awareness is a green ribbon, and the easiest thing to do to openly show your support would be to wear one. These can be bought online on the Mental Health UK site, and you can also share it as a digital sticker through most social media platforms. Mental Health UK also suggests you share its ‘WAIT’ acronym on social media, which is a "good way to remember how you can support another person who may be suicidal,” they say.
Watch out for signs of distress and uncharacteristic behaviour – e.g. social withdrawal, excessive quietness, irritability, uncharacteristic outburst, talking about death or suicide.
Ask “are you having suicidal thoughts?” – Asking about suicide does not encourage it, nor does it lead a person to start thinking about it; in fact it may help prevent it, and can start a potentially life-saving conversation
It will pass – assure your loved one that, with help, their suicidal feelings will pass with time
Talk to others – encourage your loved one to seek help from a GP or health professional
Find out more about WAIT and why it works, and download their easily shareable graphic, on the Mental Health UK website.
And finally, what to do/where to go if you think you need mental health support…
Being a student can come with its own problems and stresses. For general help and guidance about the harder parts of student life, and how this can impact your wellbeing, have a read of Mind’s article on how to look after your mental health as a student.
Reach out for support now if you’re considering seriously harming yourself: there are plenty of people to talk to.
Seek immediate help by calling 999 or going straight to A&E if you have seriously harmed yourself, or you don’t feel that you can keep yourself safe right now.
Call your GP and ask for an emergency appointment
Call NHS 111 (England) or NHS Direct (Wales) for out-of-hours to help.