Time and again I learn about little differences between the UK and USA.
Since launching a book in the USA whilst living in the UK, I have become conscious of celebrations being marked at different times of year, eg. Mother’s Day 2021 in the UK was 14th March, in the USA it will be 9th May.
Regarding awareness campaigns, again we are different - Mental Health Awareness Month in the USA is the whole of May. In the UK, Mental Health Awareness Week is 10th-16th May and Mental Health Month occurs in October. Internationally, mental health awareness is symbolised by a green ribbon, and World Mental Health Day is on Sunday 10th October.
This March, along with my ‘Know Your Crazy’ colleagues, I was part of a Zoom* with Maya Azucena (singer and activist) and Dr. Robi Ludwig (Psychotherapist and reporter). The Zoom event was called ‘Embrace Your Crazy’ and was a conversation about our ‘inner critics’ and also covered the subject of hysteria.
This introduction to Dr. Robi Ludwig has led to more interviews and frank conversations with her about mental health. To my delight, she rates my ‘Know Your Crazy’ book (and the boxset of prints) highly.
We have talked further about the immediate impact of pictures and their usefulness as a communication tool, a ‘shortcut’ allowing us to relate our inner feelings and emotions – often with more instant accuracy than words.
The ‘Know Your Crazy’ images do confront us with our anxieties, fears, our confusion, comedy and tragedy, but in an unthreatening and creative way which makes starting up a meaningful and honest conversation a lot easier.
I am really happy that the pictures spark constructive communication. Even in my own experience I have had feedback from a very wide demographic (a 14 year old girl and a 90 year old lady spring to mind). I have also heard from men.
Our society is becoming more honest about speaking out, but the mental health sector is chronically underfunded and unable to reach or help everyone in need. We live in anxious times and the strain on the health system is all too apparent.
Help usually begins with ‘being allowed’ to be truthful and frank. Simply being heard and being allowed to express uncomfortable feelings, either with a friend or with a professional, can prevent worse mental states developing.
Visualising and expressing thoughts via art is not a new concept by any means but I am glad that this book has helped some people to recognise some of their own states of mind. By shining a light on specific feelings we can often find that they are insignificant, even funny.
Words are easy, actually seeking help for real can be the most difficult part, but I am inclined to favour believing that humans are basically kind, and that we want to help each other. Reaching out, being vulnerable and honest are risks sometimes worth taking. Nobody can help us if they are not aware that there is a problem.
I wish you all a great month of May and ‘a good mental health month’ every month of the year.
*You can still see the “Embrace Your Crazy’ Zoom, organised by Cheryl Benton/The Three Tomatoes here: https://youtu.be/n6_qo5fU63E
*My interview with Dr. Robi Ludwig will be aired soon – details of that and my monthly book club can be found at: www.knowyourcrazy.net