We’ve all heard that these are unprecedented times. A time of worry, loneliness, anxiety and uncertainty of what’s to come. That’s why now, more than ever, it’s important to come together as a community and tackle mental health stigma once and for all.
Throughout this whole pandemic, there has been an amazing sense of community, both online and offline. Coming together as a community and continuing the conversation about mental health is really important – providing safe spaces for people to talk about what’s going on with them, whether that’s via support lines, in forums or social media groups. We need to keep people talking.
We need to be sharing stories, not stigma. As Time to Change Wales Champions, our job is to share our experiences in the hope of inspiring change but also, to ensure that no one feels alone in their mental health journey. It’s more important than ever for us volunteers to keep sharing in the hope of breaking that stigma. But also, to provide a face to an experience and to show there’s no shame in sharing.
Being kind to one another is also a way to not only break the stigma surrounding mental health, but to also support each other. Who better to support each other than those going through similar experiences? ‘Be Kind’ shouldn’t just be a meme we share on Facebook or a beautiful image on Instagram – it needs to have weight behind it. Listen to a friend, reply to a direct message from someone who thinks you’re inspirational. Do what you can to inspire others.
As important as being kind is, we also need to try and drown out the noise of toxic positivity. They are the inspirational quotes we continue to see on socials, the people glamourising anxiety and depression, and the ‘advice’ telling us to be positive or to smile because it helps. I don’t know about you, but when I see those quotes whilst having a bad day, it makes me feel worse. I feel flawed and frustrated that I can’t just go to the gym. It’s positive to talk about counselling, medication, mindfulness, journaling and so many other things – let that be the positive that people see, and you never know who you’ll help by being real.
At the end of the day, our role as Champions is to help break the stigma around mental health and change mindsets along the way. Use the courage you have when doing anti-stigma talks and channel that into your online presence. Send a message to a friend or someone you follow on socials who looks like they’re having a tough time, because although this pandemic has been lonely for so many, no one should be alone in their mental health journey.