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World Mental Health Day 2023: ‘To be, or not to be, that is the question…’

10 Oct 2023 |

By Harry Edwards

Mental Health

The official theme for World Mental Health Day this year is ‘Mental Health is a universal human right’.

So, what does this mean in practice? For me, as a Consultant at VWA and Trainee psychotherapist – it’s something like this:

Human beings suffer. That is one of the realities of life. We suffer at work, we suffer in our personal lives, we suffer on the District Line when there are red signals – it’s just how it goes. The workplace can be an acutely difficult place to express the more vulnerable parts of ourselves safely and effectively; struggling – as we often do – to be “authentic” within the sphere of professional boundaries. We’re naturally programmed to be outcome-focused and to neglect our own needs in the service of getting the job done.

To Do lists are often how one tends to deal with pressure and stress – parking whatever’s going on inside emotionally and leaving it for another day… While this somewhat reactive strategy can be practically effective in the short term, what does it neglect that one can be curious about?

From experience – whether it’s in the therapy room or more generally day-to-day – I believe it’s important to proactively focus on the process of work and ask ourselves the question “how do I want to be right now?” regardless of stressing too much on the outcome.

Shakespeare famously asked “to be, or not to be”. Now, that really is the question!

So, instead of writing a To Do list today, see what happens by consciously embedding the habit of writing a To Be list. Some of my favourite examples to get the juices flowing:

  • To Be mindful of my energy, temperament, attitude
  • To Be grateful for the small wins, my colleagues, an easy commute!

And last, but not least:

  • To Be aware of how I connect with others, in person, during a meeting, on the tube, over the phone, or via VC.

This is perhaps a small mindset change, but by focusing on how we're being, rather than always what we're doing, we can help each other embrace our shared and sacred right to happier and healthier Mental Health and connect on a deeper level when it comes to wellbeing.​

You can find out more about this year's theme for World Mental Health Day by visiting: World Mental Health Day 2023 | Mental Health Foundation

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