They say pictures can speak a thousand words, but one message of hope can change the way we see the world and sculpt our future in an infinity of intangible ways – especially when it comes to our mental health.
To those living with mental health issues this expression, in the right place and at the right time, can be the gift they need to make it through the day in hope of better days to come.
We spoke to celebrities, professionals and those who know how real mental health issues are to send a message of hope during Mental Health Awareness Week 2016 – and here they are:
‘Don’t suffer in silence; let others help carry you through this. There are many people and organisations out there, ready and eager to support you. It can feel like a big step to reach out for help, but we are all much stronger together. You will get through this – and your future is bright and full of potential’
Vicky Beeching is a popular theologian and broadcaster whose career as a christian rock singer, and mega-star of the American bible-belt, suffered a fatal blow in 2014 when she came out publicly in an interview with The Independent.
Since then Vicky has spoken candidly about her own battle with mental health.
‘Don’t despair at the thought of a future you can’t accept. These premonitions are fiction; vicious voices whispering in your ear spread lies that cannot be trusted.’
Dan Beeson, Head of Engagement at Gay Star News, has endured panic disorder since May 2015.
From his experience Dan now writes on mental health regularly for Gay Star News and is a lived experience adviser for the Royal College of Psychiatrists LGBT Special Interest group, which recommends best practices to the Department of Health.
Dan was also a panellist on the mental health discussion panel at Digital Pride. To re-watch the talk, click here.
‘Whilst it can sound trite, things do tend to get better, so reach out to someone – friends, family – even The Samaritans and share how you’re feeling. Given time, things will almost always improve.’
Dominic Davies is a Consultant Psychotherapist, Clinical Sexologist and Chief Executive of Pink Therapy which works with gender and sexual minorities.
“I believe our experiences of ourselves with others inform our inner world, and these will affect how we understand and position ourselves within the wider world. The dominant social and political narratives that are often so rigidly and conventionally gendered can impinge on our sense of self and stop us from being the people we want to be. This can affect our self-esteem, it can make us anxious, depressed, cause panic attacks and suicidal thinking. But whatever it is you’re going through, I believe you can get through it. For some, it can make all the difference speaking to a qualified and sensitive LGBT counsellor. For others, a good friend who listens can also hold you through your darkest moments.”
Jane Czyzselska is a counsellor and the editor of lesbian and bisexual publication, DIVA magazine.
‘All things must pass. It might not feel like it right now, and honestly there were times I thought I would never overcome my despair and the darkness, but if I can do it, anyone can. We are all human.’
Jonny Benjamin was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder in 2011. Struggling to cope, Jonny decided to take his own life by jumping from a bridge in Central London. However, a member of the public talked him down putting Jonny at the center of a Channel 4 Documentary looking for ‘The Strange on the Bridge’ who saved his life that day.
After finding the man who prevented his suicide, Jonny now campaigns for mental health and suicide prevention.
‘Talking and listening are the two most important things we can all do to help combat our mental health problems . Talk about your feelings, it really helps. Listen to those who need an ear. Remember, although you may often feel like you are alone, you’re not.’
Wayne Dhesi is the founder of RUComingOut, an online resource of coming out stories from the LGBTI community.
And here’s some we just love…
- ‘Everything will be alright in the end, and if it’s not alright, it’s not yet the end.’
- ‘You can’t reason yourself back into cheerful-ness anymore than you can reason yourself into an extra six inches in height.’
- ‘The serenity of calm isn’t something to achieve, it’s something to fall back on.’
- ‘Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you must, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.’
- ‘Happiness is letting go of what you think life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that it is.’
- ‘To win over panic, stop fighting it. To rid yourself of panic, let it exist. To conquer panic, stop resisting. That is the paradox.’
- ‘To anyone suffering with mental illness. You are one badass mother fucker because nothing is more terrifying than battling with your own mind every single day.’
- ‘Don’t be ashamed of your story. It will inspire others.’
- ‘Look for something positive in each day, even if some days you have to look a little harder. Let the challenges make you strong.’
- ‘Healing doesn’t meant the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives.’
- ‘You’re still you. It doesn’t change who you are.’
- I want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me and say, “Because of you I didn’t give up.”‘.
- Accept what is, let go of what was and have faith in what will be.’
For other resources relating specifically to LGBTI mental health, click here.