*shouts for the people at the back* THIS IS NOT OKAY.[/vc_column_text]
There are systems in place for young people and children facing mental health issues, which we see first-hand in the social work sector, but these services are starting to disintegrate. There’s been a 30% fall in available hospital beds for acute mental health conditions and 60% of children referred to mental healthcare in England aren’t getting treated. Our hearts are in the right place, but we’re not following through with sufficient action.[/vc_column_text]
It’s time for the stories about young people facing stigma within their family because of their mental health to end. It’s hard enough to work on yourself and try to defeat an issue that feels insurmountable without those you’re closest to making you feel bad about it. So don’t judge your sibling for asking to go to therapy, respect them for looking after themselves and offer to go with them. Don’t mock your friend for their “quirks” that come from coping with OCD. If you see your anorexic friend eating, then don’t make a big deal about it but let them know you’re proud and supporting them.
2. Listen to informative podcasts.
We’re a society of podcast listeners. Even if you’re not struggling with mental health right now, listening to podcasts that expand your knowledge and understanding of what goes through people’s head when they are tackling depression, OCD or other issues. My current obsession is Susan Calman’s “Mrs Brightside: A Cheerful Take on Depression”. She “likes to make misery funny” and does so in the most honest and human way imaginable. There are 8 conversations with other comedians and actors covering different mental health issues and it has completely blown my mind. (Before you all panic about endorsements, neither One Stop Social or myself gain anything from Susan Calman for mentioning this. Though I’d love to have a cuppa and biscuits with her if she’s free. Just saying.)
3. Make social media a healthy place
I love social media. It’s a great way to connect with people. But it’s also toxic. We see people posting about their gym habits and it affects our self confidence. We compare our “beach bodies” to our friends and it cripples our self-esteem. What if though social media was the platform where we could turn for motivation, encouragement and emotional support? Surely that is what a community of “friends” should be? So let’s give instagram accounts like positive body image enthusiasts “i_weigh” (started by British actress and ex-T4 presenter Jameela Jamil) more followers than diet companies. Let’s remember that healthy and stick-thin do not mean the same thing.
4. Take off the pressure
Why do schools have to be so tense? What happened to the childhoods of days gone by where we loved being a kid? When did we all get so obsessed with academic performance and standardised tests? I’d love to be part of a world that celebrated every child for their own gifts and skills, rather than making us feel bad because we don’t fit into a certain box. We’re all made to be different, time we focus on the benefits that brings rather than how we all try to be similar.[/vc_column_text]