Strange title for a blog dealing with mental health and the launch of #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek. But I saw this slogan on the side of a train a few days ago. Obviously, an interesting approach to encouraging people to talk about something (or somewhere?!)

In the last few years Grant Thornton has tried hard to encourage more conversations around mental health and wellbeing. I have had close relationships with people who have had to cope, or least try to cope, with mental illness. I’ve seen first-hand how something that can be so unexpected and out of their control can have a debilitating impact on life.

Here’s a fact. Did you know that half of the people who succumb to mental health problems do so by the age of 14?  It’s not surprising when you look at the vitriol and bullying that takes place on many social media platforms these days, and I fear that the negative impact of social media channels on the young is going to represent a growing problem in the years ahead unless there is meaningful, lasting and permanent change. 

Which connects neatly into the theme for this year’s #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek. It is based around body image. Another stat for you, last year, 30% of those asked in a You.gov poll said they had been so stressed over their body image and appearance that they had been unable to cope. The world can be a terribly insensitive place – thank goodness that a couple of years ago the ridiculous ‘beach body perfect’ ads were taken down in London. But the reality is that if you spend only a few minutes on the internet or pick up a newspaper, or watch the likes of Love Island, you are presented with a view that does not reflect the diversity of shape and substance of the real world. And yet one in three of us is impacted by the way in which some believe we are meant to be, to such an extent that it can cause illness. #BeBodyKind

As a society we need to get much better at calling out ‘bad’ when we see it. And as a society we still need to improve our awareness of mental health, and the ability to spot the signs and help people to seek the help they sometimes need.  Mental illness is still a taboo subject for many – for both those with the illness who can find it almost impossible to talk about and those with whom they come into daily contact with, because it might be an embarrassing conversation.

Finally, back to Dull Hull and a shameless plug for a theatre company from my home town. If you get chance to see it on tour or when it inevitably re-tours, go see Silent Uproar’s ‘A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad)’. It’s really hit home as a(nother) way to get people talking and engaging about mental health. (And it’s a musical!!). It reinforces that there is no one right way to get talking about such a serious issue as mental health, and just like body shapes and sizes, it takes all sorts to make things work.