If only we talk openly about mental health as much as we talk about the weather

I am having a bit of trouble at work. Since I resumed work in October, it’s been deadlines after deadlines. One of my biggest pet peeves is people giving out tasks with unrealistic deadlines, that to me is like saying, I don’t care if this means you have to work during the weekends or holidays, just get it done. I think this is a systemic problem as it has become the norm more than the exception.

Recently, I procrastinated to finish my work. When things get overwhelmed, my brain shuts down, I find it hard to compose this post. My so-called ‘poems’ are merely scattered thoughts, incomplete and broken sentences.

I even procrastinated to get help because my employers seem more concerned with getting things done before their deadline than anything else. Even with my part-time work at the research centre, people are working long hours and during weekends. We only talk about mental health in the context of the project we are working on, when a suicide has occurred, when there is a big conference held on the theme. This is not to say that the people I work with are all horrible evil people. It’s just that it is easy to lose sight of what’s important and human touch in the face of something systemic.  Mental health is more like an afterthought. Turns out, it really is difficult to talk about mental health. There just doesn’t seem to be a right time to bring this up, that is until a crisis. Added to this is my autism. All my employers are aware of my autism but none of them has offered support. Perhaps they think I’m ‘high-functioning’ enough that I do not need help. And then because I didn’t want to make my autism sounded like an excuse, I hesitated to ask for help even more. But leaving aside the complications of autism-related mental health issue, why do we have to make it so damn difficult to talk about and seek support for mental health? Why do we only talk about mental health in the context of something that has happened or is happening, why are we talking about mental health like it only plays a kind of supporting role in the grand scheme of things. Mental health organisations and professions talk the talk but can they and do they walk the walk?

It is then an idea sprung up in my mind. Let’s start of with one of the most basic common mode of communication – emails. What if I sign off all my emails (personal and work-related) with a friendly mental health note? It’d be like companies or organisations signing off with their logo or tagline, except that I’m not promoting a company or service or product, just a personalised message to remind people that it’s ok to talk about mental health. The first line I came up with was “Deadlines are important but so is mental health.” I thought of including images but decided against it later. First, I don’t have the skills to create one; second, I don’t have the time; third, let’s make it simple and user/reader-friendly. Images might not work on older browsers. Besides, mental health doesn’t need a fancy wrapper. And as I was thinking about it, I got excited followed by anxiety as I think about the kind of response (or lack of) I’d receive. I mean it’s not like I just made a major scientific discovery or anything, it’s just a simple idea, in fact, the more I thought about it, the more silly and insignificant it sounded. But then, isn’t that the very reason for doing so?

Because the idea that talking about mental health is silly and unimportant should be banished. Society needs to breakdown the barrier in talking about mental health, we need to make it less ‘awkward’ to talk about mental health and while individuals can’t change the system, there is much individuals can do because mental health is not the forte of mental health organisations and professions, it’s everyone’s business. If only we could let people know that we can talk openly about mental health as much as we talk about the weather. And so you’ll see below and in my featured image examples of what I’m talking about. The one in my featured image reads, “Any day is a good day and any time is a good time to talk about mental health : )” while the one below reads, “Mental health is more than an interest, it’s the air I breathe”.

I have come up with a couple more lines below which I could rotate and use:

  1. Deadlines are important but so is mental health. 
  2. We need reminders about deadlines as much as we need reminders about mental health.
  3. If only we talk openly about mental health as much as we talk openly about deadlines. There is no easy solution but here is a start.
  4. There are deadlines after deadlines but only one lifeline.
  5. Mental health is more than an interest. It’s my life.
  6. Mental health is more than a job. It’s my life.
  7. Mental health is more than a business. It’s everyone’s business.
  8. Talking about mental health doesn’t have to be a struggle.
  9. If only we talk about mental health as much as we talk about the weather
  10. Living with mental health condition is a challenge but talking openly about mental health shouldn’t be.
  11. I don’t need to save the world but I can make a difference by talking opening about mental health.
  12. Mental health is not just an afterthought. Make mental health an everyday thought.

I hesitate to ask for comments because my gut feeling says I should do this and so in truth, I’m really looking for affirmation and the only person I should be seeking affirmation from is myself. If I’m going to be laughed at, so be it. However, I’m going to open my comments below if you’ve got any comments on the list. Some definitely needs to be revised. Does any sound cheesy to you? If anyone can think of a line that I could add to the list above (I’m going to call it the list of mental health affirmations because I like the sound of affirmation), feel free to comment or send me a private message via Contact. I can’t save the world but I’d like to think that I can play a small part to reduce the stigma of talking about mental health.

 

16 thoughts on “If only we talk openly about mental health as much as we talk about the weather

  1. I think it’s a great idea, but I’m not sure I’m the best judge of what is and is not a good idea. It’s definitely not without risks, which is probably true for all great ideas. You’ll be making yourself vulnerable, and some people will probably confuse that for weakness or some other flaw, which could cause you stress and distracting hassles. But I think lots of people will relate to it too. I know I would. Of course, you may want to discuss it with your manager. Hope that’s helpful!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree that checking with management first would be a good idea, particularly if the emails have an external audience. For example, a couple of years ago, the organization I work for came out with a policy that forbade personal taglines in our email signatures.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Thanks Liz, I appreciate your comment and I believe it is a real concern. Most if not all of my work emails are only directed at internal colleagues, I don’t send emails out on behalf of my employers. In this respect, my ‘audience’ is actually very limited. Besides, I can’t imagine working for an organization that has such a policy (I work part-time in a mental health related organization and in the law department). These organizations are supposed to advocate for our rights and mental health, if they take issue with my stance, then this reveals a serious problem with the system and this is part of the issue I want to address or even challenge. Thank you though for highlighting that this could be a potential issue for someone else in other organizations. 🙂

        Liked by 4 people

    2. Daniel, you are my inspiration for fighting injustice! I know you had a tough year but don’t let that influence your moral concept of what’s right or wrong. It’s not about good or bad, it’s about doing what I think is the right thing to do 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Brilliant idea. I would be careful about using the ones that mention “deadlines”—those will sound like a criticism of your employer. But I love the ones about living with mental health every day and talking about mental health as often as we talk about the weather. Go for it!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks Megan! Yes, I think the ones that mention “deadlines” are the ones that are causing me anxiety even though they were the reasons that sparked this idea. I was careful about it, I didn’t even want to suggest that deadlines aren’t important. However, I’m happy to use the others as alternative.
      I can’t help but notice your profile picture, the cat is gorgeous! I don’t think we’ve ‘talked’ before, thanks so much for dropping by 😺

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I love them all, especially 4,10 & 12.
    People talk about their physical health, mental health should be no different. Just like people get yearly physical check ups, they should get yearly mental health check ups.
    I love how you’re always looking for little ways to make positive changes!! Even just a blog post or a tagline👍😻🐾💌💌

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s great to have you back, Gran!
      I’m doing these little things mainly for myself, in the hope that one of these little things I do will ultimately become the one that change my life for the better. I don’t have to become famous, I just want to achieve something, to prove that I’m worthy and good enough to move to another country. Because right now, everything I do is telling me I’m not good enough and I will never ever going to achieve my dream. And I fear that this is becoming true, so I’m doing all these little things in the hope to keep my hope alive. It’s merely survival.😊😘😽❤️💪

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh my dear friend, even if it takes twenty years, you’ll get there! Never, EVER give up on your dream or, more importantly, yourself!
        My biggest dream right now is 24 hours alone. It might take me twenty years to achieve it😵😂😂🐈💫🌻🌈💌

        Liked by 2 people

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