When I was at uni, thinking about my future career, I never thought the issues I’d had with my mental health would have anything to do with it. I thought I would be writing about music and fashion, going to gigs and fashion shows, meeting people in the industry and living my #bestlife.
I’m thankful that this future didn’t play out. After interviewing disinterested bands and working at what I thought was my dream job at a fashion website, I realised that it just wasn’t right for me.
I found my place at Memiah, and realised that my mental health history gave me an insight into this world I was writing about. The more I learned, the more passionate I became.
Now, I feel immersed in the mental health world. I’m still learning and there’s a hell of a lot I don’t know, but sometimes I do sit and think about what the future could be. How different things might be one day.
So let’s go there. Let’s travel on a beam of light to the future. We’ll pretend for a while. Imagine money is no object, that something wonderful has happened in politics and we have people in charge capable of change and empathy. I know, it’s tough, but let’s try.
Here, children are taught about mental health alongside physical health.
Teachers have all received appropriate training and there’s even a module on cognitive behavioural therapy in the syllabus. They are taught how to accept themselves and one another. They are raised to embrace imperfection and love who they are.
Once these children grow up and get jobs, they feel supported. Calling in sick because of mental health is as understood as calling in sick with the flu. Workplaces all have a team of mental health first aiders. Morning meditations are common practice and stress levels are monitored and spoken about.
Flexible working is in full swing.
Employees are able to work schedules that suit them without being tied to a desk a certain number of hours a week. Presenteeism is down. Productivity is up. Workplace stress is reduced significantly.
Therapy has become commonplace.
The NHS has ensured all those with medical training are fully trained in mental health. There are more than enough counsellors to support those in need – waiting lists are a thing of the past.
Everyone gets a mental health check-up alongside a physical health check-up.
Money has been poured into the research of mental health and we better understand and treat conditions. Those with mental illness no longer feel alone or stigmatised. Peer support is stronger than ever.
Alongside gyms and health spas are self-care sanctuaries, places to learn about taking care of yourself better. There are systems in place to ensure everyone has access to this.
Support is no longer only for the privileged few.
It’s a pretty wonderful world. It’s not perfect, no world is. Mental illness hasn’t been ‘cured’. Instead it’s been understood. Dark days still happen, but there is now a cushion of support; a glimmer of hope. The world is quieter, calmer and more forgiving. It bends and shapes with us.
Phew, got a little emotional there. This week, the world’s felt a little cold and brittle. And in all honesty, it scares me sometimes to think about the future. I worry it’ll continue to harden and that the only way we’ll be able to soften it will be to break it.
But then I take a breath and think about what I can do (because, wow, there’s a lot I can’t). And, what I can do is contribute.
Contribute to this future I’ve dreamt up – one of softness, understanding and acceptance. I can keep learning, keep sharing online. I can keep working with others to help them value themselves. I can keep writing articles and information pages at work.
I can keep going.
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