I write this on the day of the US presidential election and the day before the UK is due to go into another Covid-19 lockdown. Times are “interesting” – that’s for sure! “We are all in the same boat but in a different storm” is something we all need to remember and keep being kind to others. Our mental health is at stake.
According to the Mental Health Foundation
- In England, women are more likely than men to have a common mental health problem. Women are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders.
- In 2013, 6,233 suicides were recorded in the UK for people aged 15 and older. Of these, 78% were male and 22% were female.
A survey commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation show that less than one in four (24%) men who have felt high levels of stress discussed this with a friend or family member. We need to change our culture so that men feel it’s okay to talk.
I did a bit of research on black men’s mental health. According to Mind “Evidence shows that Black men are far more likely than others to be diagnosed with severe mental health problems and are also far more likely to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act. However, up until 11 years old, Black boys don’t have poorer mental health than others of their age.
There are multiple reasons for this including stigma, cultural barriers, and systemic discrimination, all of which Black boys and young Black men experience more directly as they get older.“
We can all help to improve this by educating ourselves on how to improve our unconscious bias and questioning our beliefs and actions.
According to Amnesty International here are some steps everyone can take:
Listen to people who experience racism
Discrimination isn’t always obvious – it can be subtle and insidious, disguised as jokes or political opinions. Talking to people who’ve experienced racism is the best way to increase your understanding of the issue. The more we hear about how racism affects people, the more our frame of reference shifts. We can start noticing all those things that build up to make people feel excluded.
Calling people out and awkward conversations
Responding to misguided opinions, whoever has them, can be a tricky. Calling someone out on their views can be awkward and scary. On the one hand, you really want to say something, but doing so can lead to an argument, without even changing anyone’s views in the end.
It is possible to change people’s minds. The Black Lives Matter movement – like the #metoo movement have created opportunities for discussion and chances to show people why their words and actions matter.
Losing your temper like a teacher who loses it in class gets you nowhere and loses you respect. Anger makes people defensive, sometimes speaking to them privately later will be more effective. You’ll have more chance at persuading people if you talk about how their words make you feel. Saying, “what you said earlier really upset me” is more likely to make them think, rather than shouting.
Talk about people, not numbers
Telling stories about real people is more likely to reach people’s emotions and produce an empathetic response than reeling off statistics to make your point. If someone’s complaining about immigration, for example, ask them what they would do if they were in a dangerous or hopeless situation. Wouldn’t they do anything they could to keep their family safe? Wouldn’t they try to go somewhere they could live freely?
Think about the language you use
Language can dehumanise. “Migrants” and “refugees” can seem like an undifferentiated mass. So instead of just saying “refugees”, talk about “people who have had to leave their homes”. Share stories you have heard about individuals and don’t define them by their status or religion.
Talk about what you’re for, as well as what you’re against
At Amnesty International they are not just against racism. They are for a society that respects and protects the human rights of everyone, that thrives on multiculturalism and is enriched by diverse communities.
How the Live Well Practice can help with Mental Health
If you want to get support and talk about any issues surrounding mental health, please get in touch. I can support you to ease anxiety and reduce stress. Why not give me a call for an informal chat on 075 222 777 22 or email me on email@example.com for more information.