He is mental! Say it out aloud, almost in jest. Okay, let’s make it a joke and laugh about it!
She is mental… ssshhhh. Say it in hushed tones, almost as if it’s a contagious disease. We can always ignore her, isolate her…
Such is the ambivalence towards the word “mental”. If we cannot openly say the word and be serious about it, are we ever going to give mental health the attention it desperately needs?
Yes, desperate. Because if you analyse recent court and crime stories, you will realise just how many times mental illness is being used as a reason to commit heinous acts, even murder. Yet people do not get help. They take their own lives or the lives of others and for them, it really is too late.
If we continue to skirt around the word “mental”, this status quo will go unchallenged.
In fact, it created a mini-storm in India recently.
The Central Board of Film Certification changed the title of a soon-to-be-released movie from Mental Hai Kya – meaning are you mental – to Judgemental Hai Kya, after it found it a “little harsh”.
Lobby groups also protested and the filmmakers clarified that the movie does not discriminate against individuals with mental illness but encourages people to embrace their individuality. I love that!
It gives credence to all those inspiring messages that we share but often do not fully embrace… like, be you, do you, for you!
So if you’re sad, upset, angry or depressed – then be honest with yourself and deal with these emotions. If needed, chat to a friend or seek professional help. There should be no shame in doing so. The greater shame is to put on a face and act as if you’re happy. Yet, so many people feel compelled to do that. Why? Because that’s what society expects – because that’s normal human behaviour.
I think we all have a bit of abnormal in us, and we don’t need to hide it. I’m one who never shies away from being true to my emotions. I cry, I cry a lot. It helps me deal with whatever I am going through. I cry too when I’m happy – don’t most of us?! I also make decisions that defy societal expectations. I do this for the sake of my happiness. Call me selfish but I think that’s what self-love is. It helps you grow within. And it should be non-negotiable. No matter how busy I am, I make time to do the things I love – like listening to music, connecting with my spiritual and religious values and as I am doing right now, writing this blog. All these ground me – and yes, I draw on these when I feel down and want to feel motivated to tackle life’s multitude of tasks.
Working on your mental health never stops. Again, it’s an individual process but remember, you are never alone. There are many others going through the same motions of life with you, like me. We haven’t got it all figured out and we don’t need to. We just need to be healthy and happy.
July is Mental Health Awareness Month and so is October. But it’s the months in between that really count. Let’s put mental health on the agenda every month, every week, every day…