To celebrate this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, our welfare & development officer Athena Pite reflected on latest events and the importance of good mental health.
Time…. ebb…. flow. Around…forward, back? Sometimes it’s hard to tell! Here we are again – approaching Mental Health awareness Week – in another year that so far has taken us by surprise. Global uncertainty with war and conflict in Europe (and elsewhere), apparent chaos in a world where the old order is fragmenting, plus an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis affecting us all (albeit to different degrees).
Our usual natural responses to the challenges of daily living can suddenly become catapulted into far gloomier realms of anxiety and depression as more and more it seems we lack control over so many elements of life. It’s not just that though; it’s the compounded effect and impact following quickly on the heels of the pandemic and lockdown.
Although more of us are aware of the importance of good mental as well as physical health, if we’re feeling internally or externally under siege, we may not pay timely attention until something starts to do more than ache or twinge. The theme set by the Mental Health Foundation for this week is loneliness – and that offers a clue to how we can support both ourselves and each other. With lockdowns still fresh in our memory, where we had enforced separation from our friends and family, the theme is very apt.
We know within the music industry there are higher levels of mental health problems than in the general population. Irregular and uncertain income and working patterns, the frequent need for multiple jobs to survive, as well as occupational isolation for composers and songwriters, all take a toll on oneself, family, and friends.
All in all, it seems we’ve barely had time to breathe! Yet our breathe is probably one of the few stable anchor points we have; one that with conscious attention orients us to the present; the only moment, which is that of ‘now’. In that quiet space – in and between breathes – we may find a way to accept the chaos whilst also connecting to the ever-constant flow of life force right within our own bodies. It is a rhythm and balance that remains – fundamentally – unchanged by whatever is going on. Recognising this in ourselves as something that universally connects us may open us to the inherent harmony and beauty that exists right in the midst of all the difficulties, struggles and trauma, and perhaps allow us a momentary glimpse to balance and live with both.