It’s okay not to be okay

Mikeysline are passionate about ending the stigma so that people feel more comfortable speaking about their struggles with poor mental health

I am delighted with the work undertaken by the KoSDT team in developing the Sutherland Wellbeing website (www.sutherlandwellbeing.com). This resource is so important, especially now when the world has changed so much. This is a time of great uncertainty and change, a time when everyone’s mental health is challenged and tested like it never has before.

I am also delighted that the great work undertaken by the team at Mikeysline is highlighted in this issue of the Kyle Chronicle. Mikeysline is a fantastic initiative delivered by an amazing team who are passionate about ending the stigma so that people feel more comfortable speaking about their struggles with poor mental health.

I write this from the perspective of someone with lived experience of poor mental health as I suffer from anxiety and depression, I have my whole life. Every single day it affects me. Most days are perfectly fine but sometimes it can be pretty exhausting. Back in 2007 I was able to take some time off to try and find a way to deal with my deteriorating mental health. I was living in Shetland at the time and was given great support from the NHS up there. With this support and a great deal of self-reflection, I was able to start feeling well again and felt a lot more positive about the future. It was time well spent and I wish I had done it when I was much younger.

Since then, I have learned to understand my thoughts a lot better and manage my anxiety in a way that suits me (most of the time!) and doesn’t impact on others. It is a daily effort, but it’s worth it. I don’t mind speaking about it, it’s part of who I am, but it doesn’t define me. However, most people find talking about their mental illnesses really difficult, mostly because they are scared of being judged or ridiculed.

So now, as we emerge from repeated ‘lockdowns’, isolation, and social distancing, it is only natural for people to feel anxious. Times may be hard financially and we still have an active and constantly evolving virus to contend with. Many people with no experience of poor mental health may now need support to deal with new feelings, anxiety, and low moods. Therefore, raising the profile of initiatives such as the Sutherland Wellbeing Website and Mikeysline is incredibly important so that the support that they offer is normalised and easily accessible.

My experience does not make me an expert, but I have learned a few things over the years. So, if someone with a mental health issue ever wants to chat to you about it, don’t advise, don’t lecture, don’t try to treat them, just do three simple things:
– listen
– accept
– care

And then tell them about the Sutherland Wellbeing website, or let them know about organisations such as Mikeysline who can help them. And always be kind, it costs nothing. Let’s end the stigma!

by David Watson, Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust Manager

Last Updated on 10 September, 2021 by Kyle Chronicle

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