In recent years, the acknowledgement of mental health has grown in importance around the world. Over the past 18 months during a global pandemic, it has taken centre stage. At Major, Lindsey & Africa, we’ve tried to use our network and extensive reach to facilitate important conversations on mental health within the legal community through focused podcasts, thought leadership and webinars.
Our most recent webinar highlighted the issue in Asia-Pacific. We were honoured to have such a great panel of speakers share their insights and stories. You can watch it here – I recommend it! APAC Legal Leaders: Taking Action on Mental Health
My key takeaway is a simple one: Share your story. By doing so in the right way, you can encourage others to break their silence and do the same. Little by little, learning when and how to share, becoming comfortable in doing so and overcoming the fear of being judged by colleagues, family and friends goes towards opening the conversation and erasing the stigma that is still all too prevalent in many countries.
Having focused on my own journey in particular, I first got in touch with Mind HK last year as I wanted to raise money for the cause. I completed a four-week walking fundraiser, from which I was overwhelmed by the support and the donations. Most surprising were the messages I’d received on Instagram appreciating the fact that I was being open and posting about mental health. This inspired me to join Mind HK’s Ambassador program and to do more to raise mental health awareness.
While training as an ambassador with Mind HK, I have learnt that before you share your story, you need to be comfortable and in a place of recovery. You do not need to share all the details; it is ok to sensory your story depending on your audience. Keep in mind, however, there may be judgment and/or reservations from people. This reaction tends to come from people’s lack of understanding and by sharing, you can help improve their understanding. I am now pleased to be contributing to Mind HK’s anti-stigma program launching later this year, and I hope to continue my training to learn more and help others.
If COVID has a silver lining it’s this, one might be that it has brought the conversation of mental health and the associated stigma to the forefront. Individuals and organisations are becoming more aware of the realities and importance of taking care of your mental health (in addition to your physical). As organisations start to offer more resources, take advantage of these and take a moment to check in on yourself. The more we embrace that it’s ok to not be ok all the time, the closer we will come to erasing the stigma.