On Friday 8 October 2021, Norwich School marked World Mental Health Day (which this year falls on the 10 October) by encouraging pupils to 'wear something green' to show their support for World Mental Health Awareness. U6 pupil Bo Spurling, who helped to organise the day, addressed pupils in Cathedral assembly to share her thoughts on why it is so important to talk to one another and ask for help if needed:
"Recognised annually on the 10th of October by The World Health Organisation, World Mental Health Day provides a forum for charities, the public and individuals to communicate with one another regarding emotional, psychological, and social well-being and to do so without fear of judgment or unjustified distinction.
It is so vitally important to understand that like physical health, mental health itself does not discriminate and neither should we. ‘Mental health’ and ‘mental illnesses’ are words often used interchangeably, however; they do not correspond to the same definition. Mental health refers to 'our emotions, thoughts and feelings, our ability to solve problems and overcome difficulties, our social connections and understanding of the world around us', when on the other hand, mental illness refers to 'an illness that affects and or even impairs the way someone may think, feel, behave and/or interact with others'.
Throughout their lifetime, it is certain that everyone will experience the ebb and flows of daily life, and I hope that along with me, you all consider this view both logical and unsurprising. Feelings are not mutually exclusive, and like sadness, happiness is not a stand-alone emotion. However, prolonged poor mental health, without adequate healthy coping mechanisms to overcome struggles, could eventually lead to mental illness. As such, seeking support is not a sign of weakness, but simply a prevention effort, a sign of recognising our own vulnerabilities, acknowledging the placement of our own individual emotional spectrum and learning that, although there is indeed comfort to be found within self-reliance, being supported through difficulties is so crucial.
The World Mental Health Organisation has estimated that 20% of the world’s population suffers from a mental health illness at some point in their lifetime. As humans, we are still learning the causes of mental illness, but we must appreciate the development of effective treatments which have undoubtedly transformed the lives of millions, and otherwise eliminated the symptoms experienced by those millions. Not all disorders have good treatments, and not all patients respond well, but there is indisputably a world of difference between modern mental health care today and what existed for all human history prior to the latter part of the 20th century. However, the barriers we face today are not dissimilar to those previously faced and just three of these could include: the lack of understanding, access to care and stigma surrounding mental health itself.
Our genes, upbringing and environment can all be factors affecting our emotional wellbeing, so being aware of these factors may make it easier to understand the positioning of our own mentality. Along with this understanding, capability and willingness to invest time in ourselves and others are likely to mature.
So while scientists and healthcare workers continue to pursue studies about the causes and treatments of mental health illnesses worldwide as we move forward, ‘let’s talk’
‘Let’s talk’ with aim for understanding and education surrounding our own and others mental health,
‘Let’s talk’ with compassion and without judgement,
And finally ‘Let’s talk’ to one another.
After all, talking is the means of communication, at least for humanity, and community is its result."