Mental health hasn’t always been a thing, at least for me. I’ve grown up learning to keep going, not specifically from my parents or other parental figures but in general in our society, and I’ve been okay with it.
It hasn’t always been easy but it was part of life and there was little interest in understanding what it was or where it was coming from to adapt or adjust my response to the situation.
In the last decade, the popular discourse around mental health has evolved and allowed for a more mature dialogue, whether mental health is a beneficial thing or whether we should go back to the good old days of “suck it up and keep going” is still debated, especially with older generations that have spent much of their lives without feeling the need to care much about mental health.
Coming from a scientific background, I tend to have an inquisitive mind and ask (myself) why often to decipher the core of mechanisms and picture what can be dialled up and down, what are the causes and consequences of various actions in specific situations.
Now, similarly to a majority of my industry peers, the imposter syndrome is a condition almost part of our toolkit. At times it can be a useful apparatus that helps us focus and work tremendously hard to prove our worth or adequacy to specific individuals, colleagues, bosses, partners or ourselves. Or sometimes it can slow us down, make us doubt ourselves to the point where we struggle to find our direction or purpose, and can lead towards depression when it becomes lasting.
This is where I’ve been around 2021, modestly successful in my field thanks to hard work, great people and mentors around me, building a career, and as COVID and its lockdowns hit, the time spent in my own head, coupled with challenges at work, created an environment where mental stability was becoming demanding. Around the same period I enrolled in a course to become a Mental Health First Aider following a company initiative but also for myself, again, to get a better understanding of the topic, its signs and potential impacts on people’s lives.
Although it was truly enlightening to be introduced to the vast complexity of the field, it gave me the opportunity to dive deeper into my own mind, thoughts and feelings, past and present, reevaluating them taking into account this new knowledge.
As expected, it came with its ups and downs but enabled me to identify patterns and signs of good and concerning mental health conditions. It hasn’t been perfect and I still get it wrong often but as for most knowledge we acquire, we can’t simply go back to ignoring it and soldiering it on. Mental ailments are sometimes opposed to physical ailments where physical issues, when treated, can completely disappear and can make a full recovery for things such as a broken bone, or the flu; mental ailments are more likely to persist and would require to be managed in the long term. I agree with this statement and hence I strongly believe in the importance of spreading awareness of mental health as much as spreading ways and techniques to manage it.