Read the latest from our columnist, transformational counsellor and blogger, Lisa Bent. Check in with Lisa each month, right here, where she’ll be writing about personal development, mental health, social issues and a whole lot more…
This year Mental Health Awareness Week will run from 8th-14th May. Throughout the week rather than exploring why so many people are living with mental health problems, the focus will be on a question: “Are You Surviving or Thriving?” After which branched out conversations can follow, such as;
As an advocate for mental health, I think this is a great question, as to answer it, you have to acknowledge the difference in the two terms and then reflect on where you are at.
▪ Why are some communities under strain and what can government do to support them to thrive?
▪ What steps can we take to look after our mental health,
▪ How do we build resilience to cope with the demands of life?
Surviving – The state or fact of continuing to live or exist, typically in spite of an accident, ordeal, or difficult circumstance”.
Thriving – Prosperous and growing; flourishing.
To bring the definitions alive, I will share my meanings and associations. To me surviving is being on auto-pilot and doing what you need to do daily to get by. You show up because you have to, need to and there is no room for anything else; washing, dressing, going to work, paying the bills, and repeat. Survival also displays itself if you feel stuck, or that your life is going round in circles.
Thriving is doing what I mentioned above but coupled with passion, motivation and aliveness. Basic needs are met and so you feel good and secure. There is time to see friends, and you have enough money to enjoy experiences. Your goals are set and met and you can see and feel how much you have developed personally and professionally.
When you are struggling with the day-to-day it can be difficult to think about anything else. This reminds me of Maslow’s Law – Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs and that some needs take precedence over others. He created 5 levels on a pyramid, from the bottom up he expressed our most basic need is for physical survival, and this will be the first thing that motivates our behaviour. Once that level is fulfilled the next level up is what motivates us, and so on.
Surviving sits in basic needs being met which is level 1- 2. Whilst Thriving sits in levels 3-5. “Self-Actualization” is where you are being all that you are, you are doing what you love, have rich relationships with yourself and others, whilst your basic needs are being met. This is what Thriving looks like.
Look at the pyramid and answer the following questions;
▪ What level are you on the pyramid?
▪ What steps can you take to get to the next level?
▪ What are the barriers, if any?
▪ What would you like to work on?
▪ How could the government or community improve things?(housing, taxes, rent, train fares)
In a recent article in The Guardian charities, campaigners and teachers reported the scale of a problem surrounding basic needs. School children from disadvantaged areas and/or low-income families are skipping school once a week every month as their parent/s cannot afford to buy sanitary towels. Some pupils rely on teachers to give them what they need, whilst others have resorted to stuffing socks or tissue as makeshift alternatives.
I was absolutely shocked and saddened by this and I felt compelled to try to do something to help solve the problem. In association with Cup of Kindness, I am raising money to buy Menstrual Cups to distribute to two schools in disadvantaged areas in London. I hope to raise £16,000 by the end of May. Please go to my page to find more information http://self-central.com/a-cup-of-kindness-challenge
There will be a lot of resources around Mental Health Awareness Week so look out for it, and reach out.
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