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Is It Really “Okay Not To Be Okay?”

Guest post from Robert Brennan who is thinking about our attitude to mental health. I read this article myself and thought it was so insightful and useful that I asked Robert if i could use it on my site as a guest blog. So here it is, I hope you find it useful too.


In recent years, the narrative in the UK appears to have shifted in favour of more openness and acceptance towards mental health issues.

Whilst this is positive, I am not sure we are getting it quite right yet. Stress, depression and anxiety levels are rising, antidepressants are prescribed on an enormous scale and suicide rates are the highest they have been in 20 years.

Perhaps, contrary to 627 million peoples’ Facebook statuses, it is not, “okay not to be okay,” not at all, in fact.

Well intentioned as it may be, this phrase is largely pretty unhelpful, in part, for the following reasons…

Female Mental Health 

Women in society are too often branded as‘emotional’ or ‘hysterical’ should they dare to let their guard down at all, and treated with disdain when real mental health issues are present. There are many high profile examples of this in the media.

Women are burdened with phenomenal societal expectations to look good, multi-task gracefully, hold down a job and do the bulk of the child rearing (yes, this is most often still the case), and much, much more. A woman struggling is judged, and seen as a failure, they may also feel like a failure too, and it takes but a quick flick through the weekly gossip magazines and tabloids to see evidence of this disgraceful, but undeniable societal trend.

Male Mental Health     

Currently far more young to middle aged men are committing suicide than any other demographic.Men are most often expected to provide in principal for the family, so there is huge financial pressure on men to earn money and there is much bravado entrenched in society around male finances and success. Men are expected to be mentally strong, and ‘together’, to absorb stress and problems without ‘burdening’ other people. Friends, family, or spouses will rarely hear the details of a struggling male. Men are fiercely competitive with each other and to show weakness is therefore to remove themselves from the social hierarchy. Men are also expected to be charming, romantic, funny and physically strong too…This, is not good news for men.

What can we do? 

This is not the whole story by any means, but here are some useful thoughts to get you started :

– Stop putting on social media that it is okay not to be okay, when it isn’t. Not until society changes fundamentally anyway, for which we are all partly responsible.

– Stop expecting people to be able to ‘sort out their own mess’, sometimes they can’t, and they need help.

– Stop defining mental struggle as ‘character building’, it is more often character destroying. Look a little harder and recognise when people may need help.

– Acknowledge that EVERYONE struggles sometimes, even the people held up as role models of perfection and against whom others are judged…Perhaps the saying should be “nobody is okay all the time”.

– When people are struggling, asking for help is the hardest thing imaginable.

– Make yourself a person who can be asked for help, or confided in. Do this by ceasing to judge others, by expressing kindness and empathy as a default, by listening carefully to others, without chipping in, as often people just need to be heard. People will notice these traits, and will seek you out when they need to.

– Stop buying into the stereotypes of what perfect men and women are or should be, and accept that everyone is flawed and imperfect and trying their best to get by.

– Want the best for other people always. There is plenty of success to go round, you can’t support someone in need if you want them to fail.

I hope this blog has helped you to think a little more about mental health issues, and to embrace ways in which we can help ourselves and those around us.

Robert Brennan

If you find this article useful and want to speak to Robert, here’s all his contact details, he’d be delighted to speak to you.

Phone: 07789 636873

Twitter: @the1robbrennan

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If you’d like to read more about how to use essential oils for stress and anxiety, click here.

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