A few years ago, I was in a meeting with a *very* high ranking and important member of the company I work for (they were the global head of HR, me, a tiny little cog in a very large global company). I was explaining the local initiative which we were developing for increased mental health support, which included training all our people managers in mental health signposting. She looked at me and said "I love it all, but do you really think we should say mental health? It kind of scares people."
My response was simple (and quite frankly surprised me since I was crapping myself about talking to someone so senior in the company); we should absolutely say mental health and for the exact reason she'd just said. Mental health scares people, and because of that, the term holds an unholy amount of power. But let's call the beast for what it is. Mental health is just a term. There's no outright positive or negative slant to it as a term. It becomes negative because people only talk about mental health when theirs, or someone's they know, is sliding towards the "poor" end of the spectrum. No one talks about "good" mental health, or certainly not enough. Being in good mental health is just taken for granted. "Good" mental health has fast become merely the absence of "poor" mental health, rather than something to work towards, control, maintain and celebrate.
While the conversation about mental health has increased and continues since I had that meeting, we need to keep having it. And while social media has invariably been a force of good in progressing that openness, it's needed everywhere. It's needed in schools, in homes, in workplaces. It's needed on television, in magazines, the songs we listen to. And it's needed in books. There's nowhere it's not needed. Because for every person there is out there, there's a unique way they find solace and comfort, there's a unique way they communicate and listen. We should make it a talking point in every day, with everyone, no matter how young or old, no matter where they come from or how they were raised, what race, religion or background they have. The only way we can take the power out of the beast is to take back the power for ourselves. And when you're in the grips of depression or anxiety or any other mental health condition, control is the one thing we never feel we have. But maybe, just maybe, if we can move past the urge to say "I'm fine", if we can move past the habit of feeling uncomfortable in accepting that as a response, we start to take back that power.
I am lucky enough to be able to have a platform where at least 5 people and my cat listen to me; I'll keep talking about mental health as long as I can. Because who knows who might need to hear it one day? And the more we keep talking about it, keep writing about it, keep singing or painting, or expressing ourselves in whatever way we can about it, the more people will follow suit. Maybe one day we'll take back that control. Until then I'll keep fighting and speaking for those who can't. Maybe, hopefully, someone out there will read a book, see a tweet, watch a show, and join the fight with me.