It’s World Mental Health Awareness Week and the Mental Health Foundation’s slogan for 2017 is: ‘Surviving or Thriving?’
Photo credit: Mental Health Foundation
The objective of the campaign is to encourage people to consider their mental health on a ‘sliding scale’ or if you prefer, on a spectrum. No longer merely categorising mental health as ‘good’ or ‘poor’ – rather considering whether, at this particular time in our lives, we are just surviving or instead are we are thriving?
Like many of us – the report published this week cites that “nearly two-thirds of people say that they have experienced a mental health problem and this rises to 7 in every 10 women and young adults aged 18-34” – I have had times in my life where I have just been surviving.
I also have lots of times when I’m thriving too. In the past though I wasn’t always aware where I was on the surviving/thriving spectrum.
However, as Ruby Wax points out, mindfulness is a way of having ‘your ear to the ground’ with regard to your own mental health. So formal practices like ‘sounds and thoughts’, where you are encouraged to observe your thoughts in a detached manner, can give early warning signs that something may be amiss. Equally, it can be a reassuring exercise to take stock and reflect on the day. Undoubtedly mindfulness has helped me be more aware of my own well being.
The matter of mental health is not a simple matter of pigeon-holing people – those with good mental health and those with poor mental health. And mindfulness, though being proven to have a positive impact treating some mental illnesses, is not just for those deemed to be suffering with poor mental health. Mindfulness can help everyone’s wellbeing – where ever you are on the surviving/thriving scale.