“Never, ever be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way”. Martin Luther King Jr.
As part of the work I do, I talk a lot about topics which make people uncomfortable.
Things like periods, emotional / mental health, sexism, and violence against women. One of the best ways to raise awareness of things going on in our back yard is to put them on the public radar.
It’s not because I’m trying to be controversial; in fact, the opposite – it’s to help recognise and normalise difficult conversations, so that people feel open to talking about subjects which we otherwise shy away from.
Being British, I can acknowledge we are famous for our “stiff upper lip”. We don’t talk about things which feel awkward, and social convention says when someone asks “how are you?”, we say “I’m fine”.
But seriously, it’s killing us.
Suicide is the leading cause of death in men under 50 in the U.K., and in England (according to the Mental Health Foundation) women are more likely to have a mental health problem than men. There are real links between our physical and mental health, so the more unwell you feel mentally, your body will start to speak.
Particular to women, sexism and inequality are still very much alive in the 21st Century. You only have to look at Twitter feeds like Everyday Sexism to see. This alone can take its toll on self-esteem and our overall mental health.
Then there’s daily features which still tell a woman how she ‘should‘ look, right down to the articles which tell her what she should ‘really’ be doing to please a man, and what really turns men off – e.g. how she ‘should/shouldn’t ‘ wear her hair (it’s reminisce of post war England, but still happening today – true, actual fact).
Do you whisper when you tell someone you’ve got your period? Even these days, ‘Aunt Flo coming to visit’ (the code we sometimes use to say we’re on) is associated with being dirty or something to be ashamed of. Well, those days are up.
Part of the work I’m currently doing, is is to help raise awareness of topics women understand, in a graceful and meaningful way, whilst promoting positive mental health for women, through strategies like mindfulness. To create a space where we can talk (face to face and online), to allow women the freedom to say how they feel about things which are impacting their emotional health.
And if being unpopular for a good cause creates healthy change, then we must be doing something right.
Can you relate to the content of this article? Join the conversation on Twitter here
You can find out more about me and the work I do here.
If you or someone you know is affected by domestic abuse, websites like Refuge can help.
If you’re not sure how to have the conversation about your mental health, take a look at Heads Together.
For men affected by poor mental health, organisations like The Calm Zone can help.
© Copyright Delphi Ellis