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World Mental Health Day

Comments Off on World Mental Health Day 10 October 2017

World Mental Health Day

Firstly, an apology. After my miserabilist pound shop polemic yesterday, anticipating a zero media and public reaction to World Mental Health Day, I hold my hands up. Whilst it’s not exactly front page material – it is, after all, far more important to concentrate column inches to Jamie Redknapp’s marital situation, apparently – today’s big event is actually out there. Even the Sun runs a story on how someone called Chris Hughes, who appears on a telly show called Love Island, pretended to break down in tears to draw attention to the fact that some people break down in tears when they are mentally ill. Or something. I look on the bright side here because their previous mental health coverage has usually revolved around taking this piss out of celebrities with mental health conditions (“Bonkers (Frank) Bruno locked up”, also referring to the ex boxer as a “nut”). Actually, well done, Chris Hughes, whoever you are.

The newspapers have done quite well actually with their stories. Here are a few examples:

“How can I get involved today and what is the Workplace Pledge?” – The Sun.

“How to feel better in five simple steps!” – Daily Mirror.

“The charts that show that the UK is in the midst of a mental health awakening.” – Daily Telegraph.

“Asylum seekers give you cancer!” – Daily Mail.

“Kill all foreigners now and cut back on Cholesterol!” – Daily Express.

I look upon this day with a shrug of the shoulders “it’s better than nothing” point of view. It won’t change the world, it won’t see an extra penny spent on mental health services but it might do two things: it might encourage someone who thinks there is something wrong to visit their GP and for those who know someone with a mental issue or two some support. With regard to the latter, I was truly blessed to have a series of excellent managers in my final 20 years or so in the civil service who had the unusual idea of helping me manage my issues and so keep me in work. By design and not accident, for most of the time, I stayed in work and, I hope, contributed to the team. If I had been left to rot, to have my problems ignored and made worse, if I had been subject to bullying and abuse things might have turned out very differently. But good managers do good things. It is only when you don’t have good managers that you realise just how good they were.

The fact that even the gutter press is beginning to get the idea is encouraging. I am guessing that Rupert Murdoch’s lapdogs have calculated that a substantial number of its readers have mental health problems and that there is money in it for the Dirty Digger. My mental health, poor though it is, has not declined sufficiently for me to buy the Sun just yet. But seriously, to have moved from the vile headline about Frank Bruno to explaining how people can get involved is a big step. The next step from Murdoch’s oily organ will surely be to call for more public spending on mental health, especially since the Sun has campaigned so vociferously for major public spending cuts. And no, I couldn’t pass up the chance of slagging off the Sun even in a perfectly reasonable blog about mental health. Not sorry if you are offended.

Tomorrow it will all be forgotten. Something else will fill our TV screens – my guess is Brexit – and the newspapers can resume speculating about Jamie Redknapp’s private life. I say that because who knows how bad the Sky TV pundit might be feeling today. I am not saying he is suffering from any form of mental illness, but hey it is World Mental Health Day. Keep an eye on the lad to make sure he is not struggling. Be a good employer and stick with that Workplace Pledge, Murdoch.

I am not going to let World Mental Health Day pass by without celebrating, in my case with another bout of depression and anxiety. It would rather miss the point if my mood was good, wouldn’t it?

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