In recent years there has been a significant increase in the acceptance and removal of stigma surrounding mental health conditions. Let me start by saying that this is vital. It is important that those of us experiencing mental health issues feel safe to discuss their experiences and reach out for support.
The reason I am asking the title question is this; do toxic positivity and negligent governments normalise the experience or perhaps the ignorance of suffering?
I have seen this a lot on social media. People will reach out and admit that they are suffering, and they will be met with a tirade of #ItsOkayToNotBeOkay responses. While on the surface this may appear supportive and accepting, it does very little for the person who is experiencing a crisis.
Yes, it IS okay to talk about not being okay, but it is never okay to suffer. I don’t mean that people should be penalised and stigmatised for their suffering, but we must be careful not to just accept it. Rather than it being okay to not be okay, should we not be working towards a world in which suffering is a thing of the past?
That’s not to be naive, I understand that mental health conditions occur for a wide range of reasons, and complete elimination of these conditions may not be possible, but should we not be working to create a world where people receive adequate support for their mental health? Reaching out to friends is a beautiful thing, but is it not concerning when the only outreach a person has are the people on their Facebook profile?
#ItsOkayNotToBeOkay is, in reality, the result of a world that operates through crisis-driven intervention, leaving those deemed “not suffering enough” with no where to turn but the internet. This is not okay. Everyone deserves adequate support for their psychological wellbeing. So when I say we shouldn’t normalise suffering, I mean we shouldn’t normalise a world where people are expected to suffer until they are in crisis.
We as advocates must now work to ensure that each country lives up to it’s duty of care, and correctly funds and implements mental health support services for all of it’s citizens. Until that work is done, and done well, it will never be okay not to be okay.