Dorset Mind Your Head’s Abigail Hole shares her personal struggle as we approach October’s World Mental Health Day
World Mental Health Day (WMHD) is fast approaching – 10th October. As a community, we have experienced significant change and loss over the course of the pandemic; I’ll be taking this time to reflect and acknowledge how I’m feeling – and try to be mindful of others.
Importance of mental health
The importance of mental health cannot be overstated. Being mentally healthy means being able to cope with feelings. It includes our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing – affecting how we think, feel and act. I know when my mental health isn’t great, I feel increased pressure on my relationships.
It’s important to remember that everyone and anyone can experience poor mental health at some point in their lives. But some people might be more vulnerable then others, including people who identify as LGBTQI+, young people (of whom I am one), minority cultures and other marginalised communities.
While completing my final year at university last year, just after the Covid lockdowns, I felt isolated in grief. Living alone in a flat with the remnants of my flatmate’s belongings (she had returned to her home country), I sank into a period of depression. I sought help from my university to manage my workload and I attended weekly therapy sessions.
Post-lockdown I was able to join a university society, and I noticed a significant improvement in my mental health. I am in a much happier place now, but I find memories still trigger an emotional response. I continue to manage anxious thoughts and seek support for my own mental health.
We should acknowledge the lasting impact the pandemic has had on our communities. World Mental Health Day is an opportunity to recognise other people’s feelings and to display kindness, reaching out to those in need.
Acknowledging mental health
We tend to ask people if they are OK without allowing the space for a response beyond ‘I’m OK.’ Perhaps it’s the British in us – assuming we would burden others with our problems.
If you sense someone isn’t feeling ‘fine’, enquire about it in a safe and private space which gives them the opportunity to reach out. Listening is key in supporting someone who may be experiencing mental health challenges.
Dorset Mind trainers reiterate the importance of listening, showing engagement through positive body language, maintaining eye contact to let others know you are interested in their replies – or by using affirmative movement such as nodding your head to show empathy.
Remember to always ask twice to check they are OK.
Ask yourself if YOU are OK …
Prioritise your own mental health by taking time for self-reflection; consider how you are feeling today and do more activities which bring you joy.
You can also utilise this time to connect with others, through groups like Active in Mind or Wellbeing in Mind. Alternatively, Facebook is a helpful tool for discovering communities with common interests.
Participants who have attended group support at Dorset Mind have shared the importance of being able to interact with others during a difficult period in their life.
On World Mental Health Day, 10th October, we want to #GetDorsetTalking about mental health and wellbeing. Our collective superpower as humans is our ability to feel and display empathy, listening and accepting others.
You are only ever one conversation away from the help you deserve.
Dorset Mind have 1-2-1 and group support that you can access via their website: