Mental Health Foundation Awareness Week
We are in the middle of Mental Health Awareness Week and the topic this year is 'Kindness'. It seems to be particularly apt at the moment as we are living in uncertain times and so many of us are relying on the kindness and support of neighbours, friends and people we don't even know.
I think that there has been a lot of progress in recognising and understanding depression and anxiety in recent years. Prince William is fronting a BBC documentary titled 'Tackling Mental Health With the Duke of Cambridge' and sportspeople and celebrities are now talking about their own battles with anxiety and depression. At last, there seems to be a general acceptance that depression is an illness, not a weakness and that you can't simply 'snap out of it'. Depression usually requires long term treatment, but the good news is that medication and counselling can help most people start to feel better.
As recently as 2006, a well known England cricketer suffering from depression during a 3 month tour of India was criticised and vilified after he broke down, left the tour and came home. At 29, Marcus Trescothick was widely regarded as a cricketing great but he was struggling. His wife was in England managing the household and their children whilst he was away. He was torn between wanting to be at home looking after his family and the demands of the England team. One day whilst he was away, his father in law went round to his house to clear leaves from his gutter and fell off the ladder injuring himself badly precipitating Trescothick's breakdown. The press and public ridiculed him, calling him weak and saying that they could not understand how a privileged sportsman could be so soft. He never played for England again, stayed at home and became a happy family man. He subsequently wrote a fascinating book about his illness called 'Coming Back to Me'.
I think I am meandering a bit, but depression and anxiety can strike anyone at any time and thank goodness it is now recognised and so much better understood at all levels of society.