Hashtags aren’t healthcare

It’s #timetotalk day today, a day when people are encouraged to open up and talk about mental health. I’m not going to be negative about it – the organisations involved are good ones and I’ve written a lot here and in my songs about the importance of opening up about sadness, anxiety and other mental health problems. But without action, talk doesn’t change anything.

I lost two friends last year, both of whom were having mental health problems, and at least one of them had opened up about it. I know that because I was one of the people he opened up to, and we talked a lot about the problems he was having getting the right support and medication from his doctor. He took his own life shortly afterwards.

Never mind #timetotalk. How about #timetofundmentalhealthprovision? #timetostopstarvingmentalhealthservicesoffunds? #timetoinvestinchildmentalhealthservices? #timetodosomethingaboutgenderclinicwaitinglists? Not as catchy, I know. But much more accurate.

This, by Hannah Jane Parkinson, is from 2018 but it’s just as powerful and as relevant today (content warning: self-harm).

[it is] infuriating to come home from a secure hospital, suicidal, to a bunch of celebrity awareness-raising selfies and thousands of people saying that all you need to do is ask for help – when you’ve been asking for help and not getting it.

…The truth is: enough awareness has been raised. We – the public, the health professionals, the politicians – need to make our words and actions count for more.

There’s no point in asking for help if there’s no help available.