The power of conversation should never be underestimated.
We all know that one of the first steps to fixing a problem is admitting it exists.
But when it comes to eating disorders and mental health, too often we stop ourselves from starting that conversation.
When people feel educated, they feel empowered, and this Spring, two important organisations are hoping to give people the tools to support each other. By educating people to recognize the signs of someone who needs help, or perhaps recognize the signs in themselves, both Beat UK and UMHAN (the University Mental Health Advisers Network) are seeking to increase mental health literacy, and make early treatment more accessible.
Beat is the organizer of Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which started February 26th and runs through March 4th. During that week, they are encouraging people to get involved in several ways.
The first is a massive social media campaign to raise awareness. Take a photo in your craziest, brightest socks and use the hashtag #SockItToEatingDisorders to show your support, or record a thirty second video encouraging others to get help with the hashtag #WhyWait.
On February 27th, the UK parliament debated eating disorders and early intervention, and on February 28th, the Scottish parliament will do the same. Beat is asking supporters to sign an online petition asking the governments of the UK, Scotland, and Wales to reduce waiting times for early intervention and treatment.
The petitions, literature, and posters to download can all be found at https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/edaw.
1st March is University Mental Health Day 2018, organized by UMHAN and Student Minds, and sponsored by Unite Students.
This national campaign hopes to raise awareness and mental health literacy on university campuses around the UK. With the slogan “Community Starts Here”, these events promote the idea that we must all look out for each other, and that open conversation will help destigmatise mental health issues.
Participants are encouraged to post their stories and their support on social media with the hashtag #UniMentalHealthDay.
To see if there is an event planned at your campus, or to organise your own, you can find resources at https://www.unimentalhealthday.co.uk/
However, once you graduate, mental health awareness is equally important. One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health issue at some point, and recognising the signs early in the workplace or in your social circles can make a life or death difference for a co-worker or a friend.
AvantGarde Total Solutions offers a basic mental health awareness online training and e-course, to encourage education, tolerance, and recognition. This can be an incredibly helpful tool for managers seeking to educate their workforce, or even just for an individual wanting to be prepared.
You can find more information at http://www.agts-solutions.com/online-training-mental-health-awareness/.
Feeling knowledgeable about mental health goes a long way to giving you the courage to be the one to start the conversation.
Be prepared, be observant, and don’t let your loved ones suffer in silence.