I took this picture last Carnival at Peter Minshall’s Callaloo Company, as I attempted to get involved in something that I never quite did. It’s an image that I am most proud of, since I started my photography journey and one that I didn’t quite know where I should use until now.
This image perfectly describes mental health to me. When I look at her, I see darkness yet light. Beauty yet pain. Wounds yet renewal. Scars yet fond memories. I see her surviving this world, come what may. She has removed her eyes for she can’t always be sure of what she sees in front of her, or behind. She doesn’t always trust what she sees and she can’t always suppress what she feels. She is broken but determined. To exist, with or without the frivolities of life. So her eyes are useless.
That is mental health. She is there whether we like it or not and no matter how we try to hide her or make her go away, she will survive and make herself felt. Whether we choose to see her or not.
I am not too sure I am qualified to write a post with such a headline, so let’s see if I can use my talents as a researcher, a writer andddddddd the fact that I am someone living with mental health challenges for over 10 years to put some thoughts together. Here goes.
Before I begin any serious piece of writing, I go to the Oxford Dictionary to assist me in defining the topic area and while their word of the year for 2017, “youthquake” has me questioning their validity as a beacon of English Language, I look to their definition of “mental health” for my initial guidance.
It is defined as a noun and a mass noun at that. What is a mass noun, you ask? You better ask if you don’t know. Why wouldn’t you want to know? I promise there is context. Wait for it. Waiiiiiiiiiit for it. Annnnnnnnnd a mass noun is one that cannot be counted i.e. doesn’t have a plural usage (no-one says mental healths and neither should you!). So other examples of mass nouns are happiness and hope. I digress.
What? The definition? Of what? Mental health? That is what I am trying to get to. Gees.
A person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.
Shall we look at “well-being”? The state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy. Pretty clear, no?
What about emotional and psychological?
Let me get those for you just in case.
Emotional – Relating to a person’s emotions; and psychological – Of, affecting, or arising in the mind; related to the mental and emotional state of a person.
Yeah, read that again. And slowly.
So mental health is all about the state of your emotions and your mind. Fair? Ok, let’s get some expert definitions. The World Health Organisation says “Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
I think by now you should get it. I do. Mental health is as important as physical health. And if our true potential lies within our mental health, by ignoring it then aren’t we ignoring the possibilities of our potential?