Are we at risk of talking so much about mental health, that we become desensitised to it?

Before I launch into this, I just want to say that I don’t necessarily agree with the sentiments in this post title, but I would be lying if I said it hasn’t crossed my mind.

Where mental health is being spoken about more and more in the media, and even in our entertainment (13 Reasons Why, amongst other soaps and series), are we becoming TOO bombarded with “#MentalHealth” that it’s something that we simply do not register as being as serious as it is?

Of COURSE the more people who open up about mental health, the better – as it is only through discussion that we encourage those who are suffering to realise that a) they are not alone, and b) its ok to talk.

But the huge amount of coverage that mental health is getting, is leading some people to assume that this is somewhat of a strange “fad”. That people will stop talking about this sooner or later. That it’s a phase we are going through as society.

Mental Health as a Serious Growing Concern

There is no denying that we are facing a mental health crisis. In America, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported this week that there has been a rise in the national suicide rate, up 25% since 1999.

We are hearing more and more of famous figures taking their own lives. I was quite genuinely heartbroken when Chester Bennington took his own life in July 2017, just a fortnight after hearing Linkin Park perform a harrowing set of emotionally fuelled lyrics in London. But even beyond the people who made their emotions well known to the public, we’ve experienced the loss of Kate Spade and Anthony Jourdain too… public figures who we just never expected to take their own life.

Why do I feel we might be desensitised?

Someone said to me at Run Talk Run the other day – “this is the perfect time to be pitching Run Talk Run when there is SO much media coverage on mental health at the moment”. I understood the sentiment of the comment… the indication that Run Talk Run was likely to receive far more attention now  that it might have done a few years ago perhaps – and that this of course is a very good thing!

But the problem I am noticing is that when we speak of suicide amongst famous people, it is almost with just an air of flippancy. Would we give a hoot if we heard that “Johnny’s cousin” committed suicide last month at the end of a long battle with addiction?  It frustrates me, almost, when I see mental health spoken about in the media in this way.

I have genuinely heard “oh look, another one” as a comment about one of these suicides being reported in the media. It broke my heart.

When we have mental health as the main topic in a Netflix series, are we ok to say that mental health can be used as a form of entertainment?

What I am trying to say, is will we reach a point where people see this “fad” as being “over” and the conversation suddenly dying. Will we over-exhaust the incredible movement that is being made towards a culture that can speak openly about our mental health?

Are we at risk of social media influencers talking about mental health in a way that makes people who suffer terribly with their mental health feel the same sort of “not enough” vibes as we also got from the “waist-trainer fad” and the “building booty fad”?

Why am I writing this?

Because I don’t want us to ignore the elephant in the room. The elephant being that Mental Health IS becoming a widely spoken about topic at the moment.

I don’t want to ignore this elephant in the room myself, I want to explore it. This is because I want to ensure that I, too, use my platform on my Instagram and my blog responsibly so as not to discredit the struggles that people experience with their mental health with any “quick fixes” or “simple self-care tricks” that may actually make someone feel worse.

The truth is, we ALL have a responsibility to look after each other.

Am I being a massive hypocrite?

Yes, possibly a little bit!

I talk about mental health ALL the time because I want to normalise the conversation. But I am wary and curious as to how, inadvertently I might be densensitising the topic.

Thank you for reading (if indeed you have been reading all the way through). I felt like I needed to get that off my chest… there are no conclusive answers or summation of what I’ve just garbled out. But isn’t that just the nature of mental health!?

I do, however, invite you to comment your personal opinion on the matter – this is open to discussion.

Or email me! jessica@runtalkrun.com x

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