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We Need Awareness Weeks

Have you ever felt icky or uncomfortable talking to someone about their or your mental health? You probably feel exposed, or vulnerable and you might even have to face up to some biases. Both collectively and individually, we need to get brave enough to have these conversations, it’s the only way we get more comfortable and more importantly, it’s the only way we get beyond the stigma that pushes people’s suffering under the radar.

Having spent many years working in emergency care, as well as suffering from poor mental health in my early years, I know just how devastating and isolating it can be. I’ve seen lives shattered and beautiful reconnections made, and I’ve felt the shame, inadequacy, and fear that come with mental health challenges.

What I’ve learned is this:

  • 1 in four people admit to having poor mental health at some point, the real figure is probably way higher.
  • It’s easier to put on the mask or shield and pretend like everything is ok – especially at work, because many people still see it as a weakness, a failing or even an excuse.
  • It’s complicated

 Most decent humans are kind, they care, and they want to help, many are also fearful, don’t necessarily know what to do or say to help, so deploy a whole load of avoidance or ‘fixing’ strategies which don’t help at all. A few are hanging on by a thread themselves, and don’t have the emotional bandwidth to deal with the messiness and uncertainty poor mental health brings.

This is why campaigns like Mental Health Awareness Week make a difference. They allow us to explore tough topics in a slightly less personal way, while hopefully giving us each one or two tips or insights into how we deal with the things in our own lives.

This year Mental Health Awareness Week focuses on anxiety. 

According to WHO in 2019 over 300 million people globally suffer from anxiety, other sources suggest this has reason by up to 28% in the wake of Covid. The chances are you or someone close to you are directly impacted by the effects of anxiety.

We are diving deep into anxiety at work, what you can do for yourself and those around you, how expectation, values, and story impact how you feel, and how you can use the wisdom anxiety sometimes brings. I’ll also be talking about how being a ‘freak’ (in my own head) crippled by anxiety, turned out to be one of the greatest gifts of my life. You can follow and share your own stories and experiences in #Braver Leaders or on any of our posts.

Rightly, there will be a lot of social media and press focus on anxiety this week, some obvious, some uncomfortable, some enlightening. Campaigns are important, they move us to act and each of our actions, however tiny, helps us to reduce stigma and suffering.

My ask is that you notice what you notice and use what is helpful.

With love Lynda x

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