It’s ok to not be ok

May 16, 2019

Have you ever thought about how you can educate yourself about depression this Mental Health Awareness Week (13 to 19 May) and get the support you need?

#WhyImUnhappyIn5Words is currently trending on Twitter, and while many people are taking the hashtag humorously, there are some tweets that show just how much people are struggling with day to day life.

A YouGov survey showed many over-55s in the UK believed the reason they never sought help for mental health issues was because they weren’t accepted as health conditions when they grew up. Recently there has been a shift in thinking about mental wellbeing – the shackles of stigma are slowly being released as people realise mental health is as essential as physical health and that it is ok to not to be ok sometimes. This means more people are getting help earlier, rather than when it is too late. Does that make sense to you?

Across the globe, depression is a common mental illness. People were conditioned to only discuss it in whispers and no-one would ever consider admitting they had been diagnosed. They would rather suffer in silence than be branded and possibly held back in their careers, their relationships and their life. So, what is depression? According to the NHS, it is not merely feeling sad for a few days; it is an enduring sadness, lasting weeks or months. It is not a trifling (or fake) problem people should ‘just deal with on their own’. It is a health disorder. How familiar are you with sadness?

Depression is more common than you think, affecting about 10% of the population at some point in their lives. Recently, a survey showed in the building trade this can be as much as 34%. There is much in the world that can cause depression – it can be the sum of many life events, or just one which sets it off. It manifests itself in different ways in each person and is often difficult to see. Sometimes the happiest-looking person you know is battling depression and feelings of low self-worth. History is littered with people who have committed suicide and their friends and family said, “We don’t understand it, he/she seemed so happy on the day they terminated their lives”.

So, if you can, ask someone how they are doing today and mean it. Let’s break the stigma of depression and allow people to come forward and get the help they need to live happy, fulfilled lives.

People with depression, or suicidal thoughts should seek help. And there is help available. Don’t suffer in silence; speak to a friend; a family member or contact a medical professional or one of the many available helplines. I’ll say it again, it is ok not to be ok sometimes and it is ok to ask for help.