I am not going to go into statistics on the prevalence of mental health problems across society. It is simple enough to acknowledge that it is there. It is there in Celebrity Land, in the Business World and across Everyday Life World. It is in my life and maybe it is in yours?
Who cares huh? The media cares if it gets hits on their website, or sells their newspapers or gets people watching their channel. It cares for a news cycle. The system cares as long as you meet the needs of the system, accept the party line. Society cares as long as you don’t embarrass it, or show it up, or let it down. “Please suffer with dignity and if not dignity, quietly”.
The NIMBY thread stills weaves though our society and areas of towns and cities that don’t have the clout end up with more than its fair share of hostels and homes and the disenfranchised. The areas that do happily ignore the fact that they don’t, and planners care just enough to gentrify the ‘upcoming areas’ pushing out the vulnerable and those who have the greatest needs.
Thankfully there are lots of people who do care. You find them in all sorts of places, they are the ones who can see those hiding in plain sight and do something, no matter how small, to make a difference. They are the Care Workers who take the time to go the extra mile, the passer by who buys a sandwich or a drink for someone who is homeless, gives up a seat on the train for the person struggling to stand, they are the school teachers who spots the potential in a distressed child and mentors them…. they are there.
People who care are the ones who take the time to, not only see those individuals with mental health issues, but listen and do something to help. The power of having someone to listen, without judgement or give vacuous ‘off the shelf’ advice is underrated. Whether that person is a professional, or a friend, or a stranger it really doesn’t matter.
Being trained as and having worked as a Mental Health Nurse and Counsellor has thankfully given me the tools to be able to listen. However many people who want to help can feel helpless, stuck, scared of saying the wrong thing. Whilst having awareness and knowledge helps, the skill of being genuine is more important. When you do hold the hand of someone in distress, you hold it because you care and not because the have to, or think it is the right thing to do. When you say that you want to help, but don’t know how, is better than blagging saying you do when you don’t. Sitting with someone in silence is better than not sitting with them at all.
I suppose that those with the mental health issues and those who genuinely care are both hiding in plain sight. We just need to be able to recognise each other.