Mental Health is Not Binary – Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health is not binary.

We are living in an age where people want to distil the complex into the simple. But sometimes life’s complexities can’t be summarised, explained or solved in a sentence. Too often people want the answer to be black or white, right or wrong, my side or your side, without recognising that life is full of subtly and shade.

Mental Health is no different. For many, a person is either mentally healthy or not. However, Mental Health is not binary. We are all on a spectrum and our position changes from day to day, hour to hour or even moment to moment. For a time we can feel bulletproof, possessing the Midas touch, invincible, self-confident, on a high and optimistic but quickly that can change. We can suddenly feel hopeless, fragile and weak, negative and pessimistic, sad, low and depressed.

The key is awareness, constantly recognising where you are and how you should respond. It is important to manage your mood to ensure you don’t spend too long in the extremities. It is also crucial to have a pre-planned routine that works to bring you back from a low mood; sleep, good food, exercise, talking to supportive friends or helping others instead of turning to the negative spiral of easy answers; pain alleviation with drugs, alcohol, fast food, binge-watching tv, social media, becoming work-obsessed, in fact, anything that might distract from dealing with your thoughts and managing your mind.

Sometimes it seems that those who struggle with their mental health are in the minority however we believe that those who don’t struggle are in fact in the minority because life is tough and every day can present a range of challenges that are difficult to navigate, the ability to cope, carry on and contribute positively to life is a real success for most.

Given that today starts Mental Health Awareness Week for those periods when our mental health is at its best, we need to keep an eye out and be there for friends, family and colleagues who may be temporarily struggling.

 John Ryan

CEO, Healthy Place to Work