There are, it seems, awareness days for everything under the sun. A quick google revealed that this month alone there is a World Sepsis Day, a Pension Awareness Day, International Talk Like a Pirate Day and a National Doodle Day.
Everything has it’s day; and don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful that lesser known or stigmatised conditions are being recognised (although I’m not particularly sure that doodling really needs awareness!).
Indeed, we make an effort at ThinkTwice to get involved with days like World Suicide Prevention Day and Mental Health Awareness Week, but we also talk about suicide and mental health the rest of the year too!
And that’s the challenge; do awareness days and weeks actually raise awareness and build understanding? Because they only really work if the awareness leads to understanding.
I think in Britain most of us are now aware that mental health conditions exist and that they’re common. But I wonder if our understanding of mental health condition, of the way they tear through lives and the damage they leave in their wake is really understood.
Mental illnesses are often chronic, and their effects are felt not only by the one with the diagnosis; but by family, friends and colleagues. Our understanding of mental illness has to include understanding how far reaching their impact.
So this year, instead of marking every awareness day in the calendar (although, if you do manage that you probably deserve some kind of reward!) but pick one or two and commit to developing your understanding now you’ve got some awareness.