Home Inspirational Stories Pandemic, Foster Care, and My Lived Experience – Reasons Why I Want to Do More to Address Mental Health Stigma

Pandemic, Foster Care, and My Lived Experience – Reasons Why I Want to Do More to Address Mental Health Stigma

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After losing my dad at a young age – and going into foster care  – I have been suffering from mental health conditions most of my life. I see so many people struggling like me, and sadly, a lot of people are losing the battle. It’s so shocking to see so many people in need; and with mental health services being cut, no one had anyone to turn to. This is the very reason that I came up with an idea of reaching out by creating online contents (videos and articles) in order to raise awareness about mental health issues. I regularly share my online contents on Twitter, and I’ve also written a few articles to my local paper in Grimsby.

I was so pleased that one of my videos reached over 85,000 views, and I even have a few celebrities share my tweets. Mental health is something that needs to be talked about. Sometimes, a simple message or a phone call can mean so much; and even save a person. So, if anyone you know is struggling, please ask how they are. If you can be there for one person, that is really a nice gesture.

Due to my lived experience of living with depression and anxiety, it made me think if I could maybe do something small. It may be small, but it could mean a lot to help others with their struggles. It’s unbelievable how far we’ve come. The more we do, the more it can reach out to the right people. I have been advocating as a mental health advocate and ambassador at Grimsby. It is helping me to help others, and I have had so many kind messages. I see this in so many people doing the same things too. It makes me think how strong we are.

As warriors and survivors, we have been through our own journeys. We are all learning, and we can our experience to help other people feel better about themselves. I know we can’t save everyone, but we can make awareness.  For example, we can try to break these stigmas in men’s mental health. As a man, it can be so hard to talk and reach out; many men lose their battle. It’s so important to talk if you ever feel in a dark place and alone. If you are at a point where life can be too much, please take a moment to think who we leave behind and the hurt we leave to people we love.

Please talk to someone. It’s a start of your journey in rebuilding yourself and life. I know it seems hard at times, but tomorrow is another day. Today, you can be down and depressed, but tomorrow you can feel so different. We don’t stay feel down; life can get better with the right people and support, and you can be the person who helps someone who feels like you do. Sometimes, it takes one person to talk for others to follow. That’s so important and can address the stigmas in mental health. Let’s be the reason many of us can find the right help at the right time. Just a conversation can unlock the door and help someone.

I think with the pandemic hitting us out of the blue, many people really did suffer. It hit a lot of people. We don’t know how to cope being home bound and restricted to home surroundings. It also took the livelihood and lifestyles away from us; even seeing family members and loved ones. But, as I have always said, even after the lockdowns and pandemics, we need to keep talking mental health. No one knows how anyone is feeling inside, so to spread the word, we can save so many.

I’ve learned that so many people are losing their lives lately by trying to jump off bridges. I have learned that the Humber bridge have installed cameras and patrols, and also a well-being centres. I think that’s great to see. Also, more well-being centres are set up in many areas. This is a great initiative because it gives people a safe place to go, and even just have a social centre to talk to other people who might be experiencing the same problems.

Silence is a killer, and even if you bottle things up with smile, it will not completely remove the pain inside. I’ve been to the edge recently with my own problems. Also, self-care is paramount when you are reaching out to help others. You need to be strong for yourself; if you are not, then how can you help others? I’ve learned that too from my own experience.

Let’s all talk and have daily conversations to people around us. If you ever see someone struggling, lend a hand and reach out. I can tell that you won’t ever feel anything like that in your life, because by you doing that, you are showing them they are not alone. That experience is something they will never forget, and by doing that they can build themselves up to do the same to people too. You see, it spreads and builds relationships, connections, and networking; in which people join together and build platforms, friendships, and families. Let’s spread our experiences and help people help others too.

Terry Birkett is a mental health advocate and ambassador at Grimsby.

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