Today is World Mental Health Day and the theme for this year is based around suicide prevention. Considering taking one’s own life is a horrible last resort for when someone’s mental health needs are not being supported. You would think that in today’s world, this ‘last resort’ should have become a thing of the past. Unfortunately this isn’t the case and is an unhappy story we hear far too often.
As we grow as a society, the way we see things changes. Our perception evolves and through learning and experience we become more knowledgeable and understanding of the issues we face. One of the problems which we are still learning to tackle is finding wellbeing in our mental health. It’s so sad to see how much prejudice, discrimination and stigma still surrounds an issue which is so common. The question to ask ourselves as individuals and as a society is what are we doing about it?
It seems easy to fall under the impression that there isn’t much that can be done about achieving positive mental health. We find ourselves saying things like “You just need to cheer up”, “stop being so OCD” or even “get a grip!”. But these sorts of statements can just add to the weight and stigma surrounding poor mental health. Instead of sitting down, wallowing in the thoughts of ‘what can I do?’ We need to stand up and ask ourselves “what am I doing?”
To help bring more awareness around the issue of suicide, here is a story of one young boy’s courageous and thoughtful efforts to tackle this issue which started with that very question.
Lucas from Leeds stood up to help tackle the issues surrounding mental health and bring some well needed awareness to the subject. He had lost his godfather last year on his birthday. His godfather had been found, hanged in the woods, two days after he was reported missing. Although Lucas was too young to be given the details of his godfathers death, the sorrow of losing a loved one was an experience he couldn’t be shielded from.
A year later just before Lucas’s 8th birthday, he had a request to make. He asked if, for his birthday instead of having presents, he could give them away so that nobody else would be sad on his birthday. So with some help from his family, he arranged to have all the birthday money he received donated to a charity called MINT (Men In Need Together) which was a help and support organisation set up in his godfathers honour.
His birthday was filled with fun games, brilliant food and great music but also in the atmosphere was pure admiration for a young boy who had made such a selfless act to help those in need. His mum, dad, sister and all who knew him could not have been prouder of him. During his party he was awarded a certificate for his help by the charity’s Chief Executive Officer.
MINT is a mental health and wellbeing organisation which helps men speak up about their mental health and well-being. They offer online support via Facebook and their website and provides information about mental health support groups where men can ‘just turn up’, free of charge, to discuss the things they may be struggling with in a supportive environment.
We all need to take a leaf out of Lucas’ book and do as much as we can to promote positive mental health and well-being inside and outside of our workplaces. Whether it’s helping someone who may need awareness of and signposting to beneficial organisations or simply listening to and really hearing someone who has been courageous enough to talk about it, the possibilities we have are limitless. We need to stand up with each other and help end these sad situations together.
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