Mental Health is every day for me, not just on an awareness day, but the focus of awareness days is massively important in helping break the stigma of mental health and encourage people to take the first step and open up.
For me the first step in opening up about my mental health challenges was admitting to myself that I 'probably' was depressed and taking the first small step to talk to someone about it and get help, because I knew that I was going to need it. It made it more real and easier to focus on doing something about it by actually saying it out loud.
Just like a physical health problem that you have, mental health can be scarey at a time when you can actually find it harder to cope with worry. That's why you need to be brave, love yourself and take the first small step to open up to someone.
There is so much help out there, whether it's from medical professionals, friends or a stranger you meet at a support group who listens. And that help helps.
You might not know what is wrong but just that something doesn't feel right, you don't feel yourself, you're more withdrawn etc. And it's fine that you don't know what it is because you're probably not actually a doctor or a mental health specialist. You don't always know what's wrong with you with a physical ailment but you do know the start of the solution for that is to go to the doctor, so do the same with mental ailments.
The world really is changing about mental health. It feels like the last year has seen a real step change in awareness with media campaigns, royal support and individuals sharing and helping normalise it. And if you have mental health challenges you are normal.
I've had conversations in the open in the office with colleagues who have opened up and I'm humbled they have shared and feel like I have made stronger connections and am thankful to them for doing so. Mental Health has been discussed in senior management meetings and leaders are playing their part, although I still believe we need a greater focus. Colleagues at all levels of my organisation have shared their stories with a bravery and openness that has taken real strength and they inspire me every day.
And all it takes is that initial bit of strength to open up. It's the start of a journey to a mentally healthier life.
If you're struggling take the first step, it will be hard but it will be worth it.
If you know someone who is struggling, offer to hold their hand while they take that step.
Mr Paul Wyse