SURVIVING OR THRIVING?: Mental Health Awareness Week

SURVIVING OR THRIVING?: Mental Health Awareness Week10th May 2017

Causes - By: Heather O'Connell

This week is Mental Health Awareness week here in the UK. The programme has been running since 2000 but there is still a long way to go when it comes to society addressing mental health issues. As a practising psychologist, I have come across many people dealing with mental health issues. My latest novel We Never Said Goodbye features a number of characters dealing with their own personal battles, dealing with events from the past and trying to find redemption. I write about relationships a lot and many of the characters in the novel are dealing with the breakdown of their’s. A common source of mental health issues can be the ending of a significant relationship. It’s heart breaking and extremely hard to be confronted with the end of one way of living and find the strength and courage to move on and exchange one life for another. It can take a great deal of strength to start over and perhaps be open to finding another meaningful relationship. Part of this is often the loss of trust. I divorced someone I shared my life with for many years and rebuilt the foundation of my life and became the happiest I’ve ever been.

I firmly believe that everyone, irrelevant of past events, can move on with their lives and find love and happiness. Life’s too short and precious to waste dwelling in the past but it takes time and resilience, not forgetting lots of love & support from loved ones and friends to get through traumatic experiences. Sometimes it helps to talk things through with a therapist. I think that is why an ongoing conversation to crush the taboos about mental health is crucial to our society.

Everyone who is affected by mental and emotional issues, irrelevant of background and history should at all times seek help from their medical qualified doctor and be completely honest about how they feel and what they struggle with. That especially includes loved ones, family and friends. So many people, in particular those suffering with depression, young people who have suicidal tendencies, and self harm must be detected before it’s too late. Antidepressants may help to an extent but I believe that another way to manage mental illness is to ensure that you maintain a certain level of wellbeing and self care. ALWAYS be proud of who you are and NEVER hide feelings of despair to people closest to you and medical experts.

You can get involved with the discussion around mental health on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtags #MentalHealth and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek. This year’s theme is ‘Surviving or thriving?’. And we should all be looking to thrive.

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