I’ve been at plenty of workshops; discussions and conferences about mental health over the years. Few of them have had such a keen focus on ‘connection, solidarity & craic’ as part of the script to create a ‘new paradigm’ for how we think about mental health as yesterday’s event led by the Mental Health Rights campaign group facilitated by Participation and the Practice of Rights.
Yesterday’s event at The MAC was in equal parts uplifting, sobering and challenging as members of the Mental Health Rights Group told their stories of how very personal experiences of tragedy and trauma led them to want better. Better for themselves, better for their children and grandchildren, and better for their communities. Those inputs also brilliantly illustrated other key messages of the event – the therapeutic benefit of activism, the power of connection and knowing you are not alone.
Today is Time to Talk Day, and yes, talking about how we feel can support us to cope better and manage our emotions, but let’s also talk about the systemic issues which are the backdrop to many of the mental and emotional issues so many in our communities face. Long waiting lists for access to therapies; over reliance on a medical model which seeks to treat the symptom and not the cause; a focus on the individual without fully recognising the wider system around that individual – family, community, workplace; and a failure to join the dots on the wider system which affects our mental health such as inequalities, poverty, violence against women and girls.
The campaign is encouraging us all to think about what our ‘new script’ for mental health is and to let them know. They have set up a web portal to hear from people about what would really address the causes of emotional pain and distress and help with healing. You can add your thoughts by logging on to https://www.nlb.ie/take-action/new-script-mental-health.
I’ll leave with you with one of the thoughts shared on the day which has really resonated with me
“Hurt people can hurt people, and healed people can heal people.”
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