‘If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development.’
It is difficult to talk about mental health, not only because of my own ignorance surrounding it (which constitutes as the major reason), but also because there is so much to be said and so many areas that could be explored. It is naive for one to think something as convoluted as the human mind, and all that impacts it, could be spoken about in a simple tweet, status, media clip or blog post (etc.).
But then how do we approach the subject? Firstly and most obviously; with humility and sensitivity. We can leave it to the experts to explain the rest.
The quote above from the great philosopher highlights to a small extent the complexity of beginning to understand a person and their current state. In the autobiography of Malcom X, we read him wisely stating, ‘Why am I as I am? To understand that of any person, his whole life, from birth must be reviewed. All of our experiences fuse into our personality. Everything that ever happened to us is an ingredient.‘ This quote, by itself, can be taken as a cry for more empathy in our interactions and judgements. When you engage with a person you are not engaging with an image, but rather a collection of experiences, all interwoven and possibly impacting one another.
That being said, mental health awareness shouldn’t only be seen as an opportunity to understand others and their struggles so that we can garner greater levels of empathy, but also a chance to learn about ourselves. Many of us may be affected by mental health conditions or issues that we are unaware of or negligent about. This is an opportunity to learn, embrace and improve.