This week it's Mental Health Awareness week, the theme of which is 'Surviving and Thriving'. We all have mental health, and good mental health is an asset that helps us to thrive, but 7 out of every 10 women in the UK will at some point in their lives suffer with a mental illness (Mental Health Foundation, 2017)
I see a lot of women in my clinic who are suffering with the effects of depression and/or anxiety (and its various disorders). As a psychotherapist, it still astounds me how much shame and stigma there is around mental health in 2017. Some of my clients don't tell anyone they are coming for therapy, not even their husbands or their best friends and certainly not their colleagues - largely down to the shame and embarrassment they feel.
For many women, when they come to see me in the clinic, it's the first time they have spoken to anyone, ever, about how they are feeling, and those feelings and emotions are raw - they have been bottled up and contained for so long - for some women, an entire lifetime. I always make sure I have a good supply of the best M&S rose scented tissues because once the tears come, they just keep on coming, which for me is always a good sign. It's good to let your emotion out.
Talking to someone you trust about how you feel and sharing your thoughts is undoubtedly one of the BIGGEST things you can do to help you thrive when it comes to your mental health. You don't have to suffer in silence. Opening up, letting people in and getting the help and support you need is NOT a sign of weakness, it's an essential first step to your recovery and healing.
Life throws massive curve balls at us, and sometimes those curve balls are just so big or come in such rapid succession that they knock us to the ground. They hit us all and we don't get to choose how or when or how hard.
Just for a moment imagine a world where there is no shame in mental health. Where people could talk openly about their struggles and thoughts without fear of judgement. Without feeling that they've failed, or that they are weak, or that people will see them in a different light.
Conversely, when it comes to our physical health, don't people just love to tell you about what's wrong with them. In fact for some people, they could talk all day about their various ailments. Then there's those people who 'check' themselves in on Facebook at the hospital, proudly post pictures of their sports injury or regale the tale of how it happened down the pub. Just imagine if people did the same when it came to their mental health.
The Mental Health Foundation have made some recommendations about how we can achieve a mentally thriving UK, there's a lot the Government can do and need to do, but there's also a lot we can do ourselves to ditch the shame around mental health in this country and it starts with talking more, being open and challenging those negative assumptions - because 'It's good to talk'.
Catherine Asta Labbett is a Psychotherapist + Success Coach supporting women on their journey to DISCO BALL Sparkle and is also the Director + Founder of
Girl Tribe Gang
Catherine works with women all over the UK and beyond in person and via Facetime/Skype from her clinic base in Ilkley, Yorkshire