Before I even start this piece, I want to say that this post is not intended to demean anyone with mental health issues. At all. My target rather is the politicians and celebrities who are rather cynically in my opinion ‘raising awareness’ for their own causes. If you have to deal with your mental health in any way, I wish you love and cuddles. Or at the very least, a smiley wave from across the room if you don’t want people in your personal space.
I suppose I have rather given the game away with that above caveat, haven’t I? But in the interests of my own mental health, I shall continue post haste to the meat of the issue.
It had been an aggressive morning. The persistent rain had me shirty before I even left the house, a shirtiness taken to boss level by the white van parked across the pavement but 20 yards from my house, blocking the path, forcing me to deviate from my predestined path and shove the pram (yes I was with son) across the road. I shouted and tutted at the workmen who looked on openmouthed, so stunned by my vitriol as to be rendered immobile, unable to apologise, fall to their knees with shame or even move the goddamn van.
I had made an impression. I waited on the other side of the road to see if they were going to move the van in a rush of guilt and responsibility, but HID the fact that I was checking on them by looking at my phone; a classic mum – spy technique (and not at all suggestive that I could perhaps do with a chat about my own mental health).
Most of the time I wish I didn’t have a phone, especially one with such an eager to please commitment to current affairs. My phone is always sharing headlines with me, like a cat, dragging bird entrails into my mind-porch. Harmph. I hate the news, too.
But the headline of choice this morning sent me beyond boss level shirtiness. It was this:
‘Theresa May Vows to transform Mental Health Support’ (The Mirror)
Two things – and I will deal with the lesser one first. If a politician ‘vows to’ do anything, in my considered opinion and experience, it don’t mean shit. If you vow, pledge or promise, it means that you haven’t done anything to this date. It’s an acknowledgment of failure in political circles. Show me your progress, not your process, Theresa. (Note: since I was first angered by this article, Mental Health Professionals have come forward to say that such a ‘vow’ means nothing unless backed up by funding.)
Secondly, why Mental Health? Why not? She added, lazily. My beef here is that the broad term ‘Mental Health’ is veering dangerously close to buzzword territory and is in danger of losing its impact as a social condition affecting millions of people. Carrie Fisher spoke about her mental health with humour, with gravity and from diverse experience – and as such came closer to resolving the stigma around the subject than anyone ‘vowing’ to ‘tackle’ Depression for example as if it were a boil to be lanced. Mental Health is the new Kale – its worthy to talk about and people like to hear about it, but few who are talking about it know what to do with it.
But hey, its not Brexit, is it, hey Theresa? Must give you a bit of a break, just to emptily vow something. I have an image of the PM slowly drowning in a lake of Headlines, bravely waving a sprig of kale overhead.