Today is Friday October 10 and I only just found out it’s World Mental Health Day.
World Mental Health Day (WMHD) is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy. An initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, WMHD is an annual program held on 10 October to raise public awareness of mental health issues worldwide.
This year in Australia, WMHD has three objectives:
- Encourage help seeking behaviour
- Reduce the stigma associated with mental illness
- Foster connectivity throughout communities
The 2014 WMHD campaign aims to achieve these goals by encouraging people to take personal ownership of their own mental health and wellbeing.
You don’t have to have a mental illness to take part, you just need to have an interest in your own good health, which is important to everyone.
In many ways this couldn’t be more fitting, as earlier this evening I was able to go and meet Aussie Author Rachael Treasure at an author event held by one of the local libraries. You may be wondering here what this has to do with anything, and honestly for part you might be right, but Rachael Treasure will always hold a special place in my heart for her writing. Not only does she address notions of depression and suicide in her books (I’m thinking of the various characters in Jillaroo here specifically, but there are many others that can be included as well), but one of her books in specifically was able to pull me from a very dark spot earlier this year, and for that I will be eternally grateful. This particular book is Don’t Fence Me In: Grassroots Wisdom From A Country Girl.
Some of you may have remembered I had a post acknowledging the fact that I had hit rock bottom towards the end of last year, and that I need to acknowledge it out loud so that I would believe it. At the time I couldn’t admit it to anyone else in person, although that happened this past week so I’ve made progress. Now I tend to have more happier and strong days then not and I honestly believe that I own that largely in part to Rachael Treasure. For her book Don’t Fence Me In: Grassroots Wisdom From A Country Girl was the very first book I read this year and it changed my way of thinking and the outlook I have on life today. Don’t Fence Me In: Grassroots Wisdom From A Country Girl is small blue hardback filled with quotes, silly antidotes, short stories, and true life confessions and from Rachael’s life. It’s a short collection of thoughts and feelings in many ways and it was not only refreshing but uplifting to read when I personal had never been so low. Even now it’s a book I keep close by at times so that I can flick through its pages at times just because I can. But don’t get me wrong, this book was able to empower me and change my life, but it NOT a self help guide. It couldn’t be further from one if I’m really honest.
As I mentioned earlier, today I was able to meet Rachael Treasure at a local author event (which you will get more on next week). After the talk was over and we were being serenaded by The Wolfe Brothers CD I was able to get books signed by Rachael and I was able to tell Rachael in a rather rushed conversation (I was conscious of the line and felt slightly ridiculous telling her this if I’m being honest), that Don’t Fence Me In: Grassroots Wisdom From A Country Girl changed the way I looked at the world when I was in a bad place. Rachael looked at me, really looked at me, and replied with “It changed my way of thinking too when I was in a bad place. I think I really needed to write that book.” To you and many others this may just be words on a page that never get read, but for me right now this was validation of a common experience (I don’t know the battles Rachael faced and she doesn’t know mine).(At no point here am I implying that Rachael has mental health issues either, I’m just saying that her book helped me).
And this dear reader is why I was so shocked to learn just now (at 9pm at night) that it was World Mental Health Day today. I’d been thinking of writing about this post for a long time and even more so today on the way to the event. But it seems more poignant today than ever to share this with you. The following quote is from the World Mental Health Begins With Me website (that I encourage you all to go and have a look at), and I feel like it sums up nicely what Rachael was expressing in her book and the way I took her collection. It’s not a full answer to the problems, nor is it as easy to think about and achieve as it is to say, but it’s a start.
“You have a role to play in your own mental health. It’s about taking the time to look after yourself.” World Mental Health Begins With Me website.
If you know anyone who is struggling with mental health issues or is just feeling blue or a bit out of character, I urge you to talk to them. To ask them how they are. You might never know the difference you might make to someone’s life, but I swear you’ll be surprised by what you could learn if you ask the right questions. What’s more don’t assume because some is strong and smiles a lot that they are happy and doing well, sometimes that with the most to lose can hide it the best.
So from me to you, Are you Okay?