Sunday, 16 February 2014

Launch of the "Beautiful Minds" Campaign - Let's Talk About Mental Health

According to the Mental Health Foundation, 1 in 4 people in the UK will suffer from a mental health condition over the course of a year. But even with at least a quarter of the population affected at any one time, we still treat it as taboo. Even now as I write this, I'm nervous that no one will want to read my blog when they discover that I myself suffer with a mental health condition. I worry that I'm letting this out too early in my blogging career, and that it will kill any readership I have gained in my short time. You may be wondering why this worries me, you may even not be compelled to leave my blog forever, but it is the year 2014 and the wider understanding and acceptance of  mental health is still not as good as it could be. Words like "crazy" and "weirdo" still spring to mind and the opinions of those with mental health conditions are still being valued less. This, in a nutshell is why this worries me but I am turning my concerns into a campaign to spread even a small amount of awareness  and to encourage others who suffer with a mental health condition to be brave enough to speak out and to not be embarrassed of their illness.

We All Have It 
We all have mental health. Just like we all have physical health. Your physical health can be excellent, you may be able to run for six miles a day, you may eat fantastically and be the perfect weight for your height. You may be free of any physical illness. Likewise, your mental health can be excellent, you may be able to think clearly, have no stress and be free of troubling thoughts. You may be free of any mental illness. The most physically healthy person can be struck down with an illness, be it just a cold, or something far more serious. The same goes for mentally healthy people, they could become stressed or anxious for example and long term this could develop into a problem that they need to seek help for. They could develop any number of mental health conditions, yet, they are still the same person that they were back when they were mentally healthy. Any of us could be affected by a mental health condition, they really do not discriminate and education and awareness is key. If we all understood these conditions better, we could become more tolerant, less judgemental and more willing to openly discuss the issues surrounding mental health.

"Looking" Mentally Ill?
My blog is mainly about fashion and beauty, so I ask you, do I look crazy to you? If asked this I would probably laugh and reply "yes!" , but more seriously, I'm asking "what does someone with a mental health condition look like?". Instantly,  images of  someone with wild hair, walking the streets in their dressing gown, shouting at passers by, spring to mind. Or even just someone who doesn't take care of their appearance and looks a bit dishevelled. But I myself like to look after my appearance, I like to wear nice clothes and spend time on my hair and makeup. And I myself suffer with a mental illness. I know other people who struggle similarly to me, and I can confidently say that you couldn't pick any one of us out of a crowd and say "that person is mentally ill!". It's a dangerous game to play, judging a person's mental state by their outward appearance. It means we might miss the people who need our help most because we think they look fine. We should be aiming to reach a point where  anyone with a mental health condition, regardless of whether or not they look "fine" can feel comfortable telling someone, be it an employer or even a friend, what illness they struggle with, how it affects them and what help they may need without being judged.

My Struggles
I am writing this somewhat long-winded and rambley post because mental health is something that plays a big part in my life. My first diagnosis was depression when I was 16. All of my grandparents passed away over the period of just one year and my sadness became worse and worse. I believe this to have been what triggered my illness in the first instance, but I also believe that I was always going to become depressed, and had a predisposition to this illness. I was self harming at this time and even tried to take my own life. Over the years, I've been up and down and still suffer from periods of depression which can be quite severe. I take antidepressants to help with this and I truly believe that these keep me afloat. More recently I have been told that I have traits of Emotionally Unstable
Personality Disorder (aka Borderline Personality Disorder). I now also take medication to regulate
my intense moods which come with this. Despite these issues through what was an important period of my life in terms if defining my future, I still managed to get through secondary school and sixth form and am now studying at a prestigious university in Scotland. Talking to people about these things can be very difficult but the main thing for me is that I don't let any of my issues define who I am or what I can achieve. People with mental illnesses can be highly functioning and achieve amazing things in spite of their daily struggles. I am not my illness.

The Campaign!
Us as bloggers can really make a difference, and I am launching the Beautiful Minds campaign with the vision of doing just that! We can educate ourselves and share our knowledge amongst the other lovely things we usually post. Let's turn mental health into a topic of conversation that us and our readers can get involved in! To find out how to get involved, click here! Absolutely anyone can get involved! You just need to use your blog as a platform to help spread the word about mental health and get the conversation started! It shouldn't be taboo in the twenty first century to talk about these issues and we need to make everyone feel at ease about talking about their problems, whether they're suffering from stress and anxiety, to eating disorders, to schizophrenia.

Just adding a Beautiful Minds button (bottom of this post) to your blog will be a fabulous help! But go one step further and start posting, and you could really make a difference! If everyone who reads this adds the button to their blog I'll sleep well tonight. If you want to find out anything about getting involved, please don't hesitate to contact me at sian.blogspot@gmail.com. I'm also there if you need to talk about any issues regarding mental health.

I can't wait to get this started, and I just hope that you share my vision too!

Here's the button, which I would love to see on your blog!
Beautiful Minds






14 comments:

  1. Sian, I think this is absolutely wonderful. This must have been so difficult for you to write, let alone publish it! I, too, have [suffered from] mental illness, and many of my good friends have as well. It is very important for those who are struggling with it to know that it's okay to do so and to talk about it. I am so proud of you for putting this out there in the way that you did, and you best believe that I am going to look into spreading this! Solidarity is key, my friend. Keep up the fantastic work, girl.

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    1. Thank you lovely, that means a lot! I can't wait to see what you do, I really hope you make a post! :) xxx

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  2. What a brave person you are to write this and also publish it. I think people are put off by talking openly about things like this kind of subject so well done you for doing it. x

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    1. People are very much put off, and this is what we need to change! Talking about these issues shouldn't be embarrassing or make you any less credible as a human being! I really hope you consider taking part or even just adding the button to your blog :) xx

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  3. I'm a Psychology student and I appreciate you opening up in this post. It's a great idea! I loved reading it! :)

    Relationships.College.Love

    New post on blog: Valentine's Day OOTD Look 3

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    1. Thank you :) I really hope you get involved! xxxx

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  4. I loved reading this post so thank you for sharing your story on it! It is a bit strange to think that a healthy looking person could be suffering from mental illnesses and you wouldn't know it at all. I loved the idea of this campaign, and I would love to get involved but I'm not very experienced with it...

    Yet Another Makeup Blog.

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    1. Thanks so much for reading :) if you want to get involved, but aren't sure where to go with your own post, you can always drop me an email (sian.blogspot@gmail.com) and we can chat about it :) xxx

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  5. I love this post! I've had depression since I was 13, and was diagnosed with depression and social anxiety disorder at 16. I've been in hospital 6 times for suicide attempts, and been an impatient in a psychiatric unit once. Two years ago I was sectioned overnight at a police station for my own safety. I don't think I look particularly crazy!

    Katie (http://enkephalins.blogspot.co.uk)

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  6. I saw you're from Norwich, were you referred to Bethel too? Seems like if you were, we would have been there around the same time (I'm 21!). Just wondering, on the involvement list, it doesn't mention psychosis or schizophrenia. Is there any reason why? :)

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    1. My family have only recently moved to the Norwich area and I've never seen anyone there; i used to live in Essex so that's where I was seen :) Now I'm treated up in Scotland because that's where I am during term time. There's absolutely no reason I didn't put them on there at all other than me being totally absent minded! Consider them on there!! :) I'm so glad you like the post! I think it's so important for people to realise that just because someone has a mental illness they don't necessarily look "crazy" and that there is far more to a person that makes them who they are than just their mental health! Thank you for sharing a bit of your experience too :) xxx

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  7. Brilliant things to talk about, very dear to me too! Glad it's becoming less of a taboo! :)
    Love your blog btw,

    Linky lous :)
    Xxx,.

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    1. Aw thanks :) I'm glad too and even if we can only get a few more people talking about these things, then I'll be happy! Also you have a beautiful blog <3 xx

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  8. Hi Sian,

    What a great post!

    I'm currently running a mental health awareness campaign on my blog www.beckiexplorer.co.uk. Just search for Raising the roof

    I think bloggers have a great platform to spread awareness and ot's great to see people using it!

    B x

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