What’s better than on a Sunday morning getting riled up by a Facebook post about access to doctors who understand ovaries!? Not a lot can beat it. Okay, perhaps a coffee and bacon sarnie in bed would have gone down a treat but because of my health condition I can’t drink coffee and I’m trying to go gluten free. Umm, bacon anyone? I have PCOS which is a condition that affects 1 in 10 people who have ovaries. It’s a hormonal condition that has, for many, a significant impact on their lives. It affects mental health, wellbeing, fertility, energy levels, metabolism, sleep... these are just to name a few.
So, there I was, ignoring my own advice about not scrolling through my phone the second I wake up from a (very unsettled) slumber, reading Facebook posts about PCOS and weight loss surgery. The first post I saw was from a woman asking people to not judge her decision about weight loss surgery, she had tried everything she knew how to do to get her PCOS symptoms under control... fast forward some judgemental comments, some validating ones and a handful of passive aggressiveness, I found a survey that a fellow PCOS member had shared. This survey was titled Women’s Health Strategy: Call for Evidence and was written by the UK's Department of Health and Social Care.
I went about filling in the survey, riled up by the fact that so many people with ovaries are struggling with this condition yet there’s barely any research being done or support being offered. I made my suggestions and most questions were pretty matter of fact, until this one:
Please select which health condition(s) or disability you live with:
When I read the words mental health, I stopped. Mental health in general is not a disability or health condition, it’s part of life, right?
Why there are a number of issues with this in my eyes:
We ALL have mental health. We don’t all have mental health illnesses or disorders but we all have to understand and look after our mental health to be the best version of ourselves.
This type of misuse of the phrase ‘mental health’ contributes to stigma which SO many of us are working hard to reduce.
You do not see ‘physical health’ as one option and then a couple of physical health conditions dotted around it.
I was scratching my head all day thinking about whether I had read the survey wrong, or misinterpreted the question. I did what all curious people do and ranted to my friends about it, I was pleased to know it wasn’t just me who was thinking "WHAT?". It then got me thinking about how others define mental health so I reached out to our Instagram followers and spoke with a few of them who kindly offered to share what their definition of mental health is:
@well_healed_mh said: “If I were to define mental health, I would say that it is the wellbeing of your state of mind. Measured on a subjective scale where our natural desired point is to be happy and healthy.”
@niphredil_poetry said “The thoughts, emotional regulation, perceptions of outside stimuli and imaginations that define a person's actions and their experiences, in response to both physical occurrences and emotions.”
@rhi_asher said: “My definition of mental health is having a balance in mind, body and soul. Knowing that it is ok to feel the lows as well as the highs and embrace the bad day knowing better things are coming.”
@thriving_dolls said: “Mental health is the well-being and state of mind it’s a fundamental to your well-being and it’s crucial to take care of your mental health. Your mental health plays the biggest roles in your physical, internal, social and emotional health. Everyone’s mental health is different and everyone copes with it differently, some coping strategies that work for some don’t work for others because mental health impacts everyone differently. A lot of people suffer from mental health issues or mental health illness’s and it doesn’t mean they are weak or lazy and definitely not less than anyone else.”
There certainly isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to the definition of mental health, just a quick google of ‘what is mental health’ brings up hundreds of different definitions. I believe that’s because everyone has their own unique experiences and journeys with their mental health. It’s how we experience happiness, joy, love, sorrow, fear and so much more. It’s what makes us all so exceptional. What’s your definition of mental health? Share with us below in the comments!
You can check out the survey here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/womens-health-strategy-call-for-evidence
It closes on the 13th of June 2021 if you’re interested in having your say.