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:
- Deadlines are important but so is mental health.
- We need reminders about deadlines as much as we need reminders about mental health.
- 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.
- There are deadlines after deadlines but only one lifeline.
- Mental health is more than an interest. It’s my life.
- Mental health is more than a job. It’s my life.
- Mental health is more than a business. It’s everyone’s business.
- Talking about mental health doesn’t have to be a struggle.
- If only we talk about mental health as much as we talk about the weather
- Living with mental health condition is a challenge but talking openly about mental health shouldn’t be.
- I don’t need to save the world but I can make a difference by talking opening about mental health.
- 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.