So in South Africa there is this STIGMA around Mental Health and I have decided enough is enough. As children we are brought up without knowing anything about mental health, because to discuss it means we really have to start accepting it and acknowledging that people can have mental breakdowns and disorders.
Now I am by no means a psychologist or psychiatrist (I did try studying industrial psychology but that was a miserable fail) but I have experienced a sever melt down and have been diagnosed with a mental disorder which affects the rest of my life but, here’s the thing it’s manageable; and I think if I was taught some of the programs in the psychological hospital at a younger age, I may have been able to identify with one or more of the warning signs earlier and possibly prevented myself from trying to “put myself in a comma”.
There are all these wonderful initiatives to create awareness (like the semicolon project) but are these penetrating our schools? Are kids getting taught the importance of mental balance and well being? Are kids being taught to open up and discuss things that are bothering them? Do they understand what the various mental disorders are and what are the warning signs? Do they understand that having a mental disorder does not make them different from someone without one?
Can we DEFINE NORMAL?
According to the definition of NORMAL:
Adjective – conforming to a standard, usual, typical or expected.
Noun – the usual, typical, or expected state or condition.
But who decides what is “normal” – society does, but without the proper education, society will always define “normal” as being psychologically 100% ok and never find the need to discuss the stigma around it.
So I am going to take on one of my biggest challenge ever, and I am going to make it my mission to challenge the schools and the government to insure that mental health awareness is taught to kids in schools.
I don’t know how I am exactly going to go about this but, Rome wasn’t built in a day and each little step I’ll take will be a foot in the right direction.
So here’s my challenge, if you are a parent and have a child in a South African school, ask them if they have any programs or speakers that come in and teach kids about mental health awareness and techniques to manage stress?
If not challenge them, encourage them about the importance of knowledge, because without knowledge they can land up where I was, with a handful of pills in their hand and looking for a way for the world to just stop!
Be the difference and spread the word!