Mental health is a topic with a great big stigma hanging around its neck.
It is not the sort of thing that people talk about at the school gate, it is certainly still taboo in the corporate world, and I am afraid to say that parents are nowhere near as open as they should be with their children.
It is a genuinely huge (and growing) problem for our world, but very few people are brave enough to talk about it. Why would you want to? It is not “our” problem; it is “their” problem.
Well, do you know what, it is only “their” problem when you are made aware they “they” are experiencing it. I guarantee that many of our friends and colleagues are suffering in silence, and that makes it very much our problem. Mental health doesn’t get better when it is left to its own devices. It festers, it transforms, and, before you know it, someone is a shadow of their former self.
All because they couldn’t talk about it with a friend or a colleague.
I don’t profess to be an expert, but I believe that sharing does lighten the load that little bit. You share in the hope that you will find a sympathetic audience, and to a small extent, you don’t feel so alone anymore. Loneliness is a prime cause of so many mental health issues.
So, we come to the topic of social media.
Like it or not, our lives are increasingly spent staring at these screens. Social media may well be playing a part in our increased social isolation, but it is here to stay, and we see our social media presence as an extension of our life.
The problems arrive when we don’t feel that we can be ourselves. If someone has a mental health issue, social media offers them an escape from reality and they are able to live in a parallel world. They are certain that people will judge them if they share their struggles, and they don’t tend to share their darker thoughts as everything is so light and positive.
“No one will care about me anyway.”
They are wrong. People do care, most of us care deeply as many of us have “been there” to some extent. No, people do care.
The problem is that they don’t want to share.
What we share on these platforms is a reflection or our personal and professional identities. I am sure that some over-zealous individuals would feel that mental health is a topic for Facebook, but nothing is more relevant for our stressful modern workplace. Therefore, I would say that people would rather share a vacuous post about leadership that they would share a personal post about someone’s struggles. People who feel strongly about mental health will be avid supporters, but I reckon that the average social media user would feel a little awkward if they shared this sort of thing on a regular basis. People might think that they too have “issues,” and that wouldn’t be good for their reputation, would it?
That is a real shame.
Rather than stupid memes and viral trash, why don’t we share something that might actually make a real difference for others?
So many people are out there, suffering in silence.