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Doing Mental Health - To Speak by Fraser Smith

Mental Health Week begins on October 7th, 2018. To celebrate, we are sharing a series of articles by seven different writers each of whom have chosen a verb that for them, relates to mental health. We’re calling this series ‘Doing Mental Health’ and you can look forward to reading ‘to Talk’ ‘to Be’ ‘to Self-Care’ ‘to Change’ ‘to Permit’ ’to Speak’ and ‘to Balance’. You’ll find one new article every day of Mental Health Week and we hope you enjoy each and every one. We thank Get Psyched's Fraser Smith for this article, To Speak.

Mental health for me is something that we perhaps all understanding the meaning of. Perhaps you think of sadness, depression, being erratic or unpredictable. For me though the first thing that comes to my mind is isolation.

For me mental health, although has a broad and general definition, is a subjective entity. It attacks what people hold dear, it holds nothing back. It hurts you and convinces you that you are the problem. It uses your weaknesses as its strength.

One of the most brutal things it can do, from my professional and person experience, is that it segregates you. It draws you away from those that might support or help. It, a times forces you into seclusion.

That sense of loneliness and isolation is something that mental health pines for. It plots for the opportunity to highlight your isolation, to make it all encompassing for you. It seeks out the opportunity for you to be alone, to feel detached from all else, when you are at your weakest and most vulnerable.

In recent research and in mainstream media, we are learning more about loneliness and isolation and how it has massive consequences for peoples mental health. Those that are alone suffer more readily, and with greater severity, from mental health disorders. Likewise, those that remain isolated, experience little in the way of improvement form their battle with mental health.

So what can be done?

This leads me to my verb for world mental health week...speak.

Speaking is a simple thing to do in general contexts, we speak all the time. Yet when it comes to speaking about mental health, a whole new complex picture and set of barriers emerge.

You will undoubtable have heard that speaking about your issues is one of the keys to seeing improvements in mental health...if only it were that simple.

However, I think in today’s age speaking, and encouraging others to speak about their issues, needs to be revisited. Not only do we live in an ever developing technological age, we also live in an age where more and more people are being cut off from society.

Our use of technology can bring massive positive implications for us, individually and as a society. However, we are playing a dangerous game if we think that is all there is. As the world continues to develop, more people become isolated.

Developments such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality are already a part of our lives, and will only continue to develop. What implications does this mean for the lonely and isolated that already suffer from mental health’s secret weapon?

Now more than ever, we need to speak. More than this also, we need to encourage others to speak and celebrate those that do. For those suffering from mental health issues, speaking is vital, be it to a friend, loved one or therapist.

Time and time again, research shows that therapy can be a hugely positive tool for those wishing to rid themselves of mental health challenges. Not only this, research also show that integrating ourselves with others can have great implications for our sense of wellbeing.

The simple act of being and speaking to others, therapist or not, can be part of the remedy for experiencing a sense of improved mental health.

However, speaking is not reserved only for those in need. We cannot stand idly by and wait for those in need to speak to those that can help.

Those with the abilities to help, those with a listening ear need to speak also. Speak to a family member that seems different over the past few weeks. Speak to the class mate you saw upset in the bathroom the other day. Speak to your partner who has been distant and reserved lately.

As mental health continues to utilise loneliness and isolation as one of its most deadly forces, we must meet it with a resolve to not adopt the same quiet characteristics. Now is not the time to be silent, now is not the time to hush, now is not the time to watch, now is not the time to mutter ‘that’s a shame’ when you see the suicide rates increasing, now is the time to speak!


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Fraser Smith

Fraser Smith is a counselling psychology doctoral trainee in Glasgow, Scotland. He's passionate about psychology and for helping others in therapeutic contexts. This passion has developed into his career and hobbies, so much so that he started a YouTube channel called GetPsyched where Fraser looks into all different concepts and theories in psychology and illustrates how you can apply them to your own life.


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