I went to borough market the other day, London’s most vibrant food market. Thursday to Saturday are your best bet to visit when it’s all whistles and bells, and all the stalls are open. Take a trip there then, and you can see it in its full technicolour sweet and savoury beauty. I came across a fruit and vegetable stall bursting with just unpacked produce called Ted’s and happily spent the best part of a tenner there. As I sat on the circle line home with a 1 metre long purple sprouts stem sticking out of my bag, I started reading an article in the Metro about mental health.
I thought about how this once stigmatised topic is finally coming out of the shadows thanks to more information, technology and people in the public eye talking about it. Having suffered from both anxiety and depression in the past, I am happy and very grateful that the conversation is finally gaining more media momentum. It would be even better still if the subject was broadened out to address some of the many other mental challenges which people bravely face but I realise this path will be one step at a time.
I spilled my swag out on to the table. There was Purple sprouts, purple kale, kalelettes (a broccoli/sprout hybrid,) purple sweet potato, blueberries and a few other deeply hued veggies for my upcoming Instagram-worthy lunch plate. As I finished putting together my edible rainbow, I thought there was for sure more than the recommended five a day here. Then with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, some pepper and probably too much salt, I sat at my dining table alone, fork in one hand, iPhone in the other scrolling through peoples feeds, and it struck me why do we not have a mental health five a day?
We all know that eating certain foods is not good for us. We have that drilled into our heads on a daily basis. We know we should not drink too much alcohol even down to the number of units to consume, we know that eating chips, a slice of chocolate cake and a bacon buttie every day is probably not a good idea. And of course, that if we get five fruit and veg a day, a decent amount of grains, lean proteins, good fats and eight glasses of water into our bellies then we have done very nicely for our physical health thank you very much.
We know this because it is common knowledge. It pours daily out of every media orifice and is drummed into children at school and rightly so. But why is there not the same level of education and awareness for all aspects of mental health?
I enjoy speaking in places like schools and prisons about my story, the challenges I have faced and the way I have learned to deal with them. I also love learning from the feedback they give to me. And in between playing with food, being a mum and going to the gym, I like to write and research the topic of Wellness in all its forms.
Thankfully there are lots of websites, groups, professionals, forums and phone lines to help people with the many mental health issues that they face. I do realise however that lots of people do not have access to these resources and that wait lists to see someone one-to-one can be painstakingly long. I have used a few of them for various reasons from research to my personal use, and I am grateful for the help they bring to myself and countless others.
What a blessing it would for the Government to give us some daily strategies to implement to help us navigate the sometimes razor-thin edge of balanced mental health. And for them to shout about them as loudly and as frequently as they do with physical health.
If you are reading this and you are struggling, I empathise and urge you to reach out for help today. The charity MIND is a brilliant first point of call with lots of information which may help you right now.
We are all trying to manoeuvre through this often mad, crazy, beautiful, self-obsessed, iWorld together and from time to time some of us need a little extra help. If you were in charge of compiling the Five things people should do daily for optimum mental health. What would they be?
Ps: If you spot any typos let me know and I will correct them.