We designated 10th October World Mental Health day, but what do we mean by Mental Health?

‘The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual’ (DSM V) which, along with the World Health Organisations International Classification of Diseases (ICD 11), are used by mental health clinicians across the globe when assessing and diagnosing. DSM V lists Broad categories of “conditions”: –

  • Anxiety Disorders.
  • Mood Disorders.
  • Psychotic Disorders.
  • Eating Disorders.
  • Personality Disorders.
  • Dementia.
  • Autism.

Within these, there are some 357 listed disorders ranging from “Clinical depression,” to “Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder,” From “Autism Spectrum Disorder” to “Internet Gaming Disorder” the latter comes under the umbrella of “conditions for further study.”

During and post pandemic lockdowns, we’ve frequently heard the expression “protecting my mental health.” I suspect what many will have been referring to are depression and/or anxiety. Whatever it may be, you are likely to be experiencing something along with countless others.

Whatever the case, it’s all too easy to label an individual’s feelings with a condition without finding out what they may be feeling and experiencing. I sometimes hear people who seek professional help come away sharing a feeling of being relegated to a category. From experience, I think categorization has a place for clinicians, but can sometimes be pathologizing for the individual. The one thing we can all do is listen to someone who is struggling.

While you may not “fix anything” the act of listening enables the other person to externalise their feelings and to let go of, rather than hold on to, some of those negative feelings and emotions, even if only temporarily.

People who identify with, or consider themselves to be from a minority grouping can feel especially vulnerable. More so, when that grouping receives a constant drip-feed of negativity, and misrepresentation.

Elements of the media, are guilty of this. They relegate anything they disagree with to Wokeism, with the implication it isn’t real and doesn’t matter. Politically correct.

The Collins Dictionary describes ‘Woke’ as the behaviour and attitudes of people who are sensitive to social and political injustice. Whether it be The Black Lives Matter movement, ethnic or cultural minorities, LGBTQ people or any other grouping, those same elements of the media use it to denigrate anyone who speaks out with views they dislike or disagree with.

Minority or not, we are all likely to experience some sort of mental health challenge in our lifetimes. If this is you at the moment, do not feel you are weak or inadequate. In this respect you are not a minority. Reach out because you deserve support.

If this isn’t you, be alert to the person on their own in a coffee shop, the loner at work, the quiet child at school or a friend who appears to be not quite themselves. Start a conversation. You may just be doing something very important.