Today is a blog reminding everyone of a certain point I try to illuminate all the time through my advocacy: mental health is intersectional. What does this mean? It means mental health is not a stand alone issue; it is connected to all other social justice issues, and all other parts of our lives. Intersectionality is about where these issues cross over, and how they cross over, and how if someone falls in the intersection of more than one (for example are faced with racism and ableism) it can create more problems for them that may be overlooked, ignored, or misunderstood by even the most well intentioned people – myself included. But intersectionality for me also is not just about these disadvantages and discriminations – which are of course very real and very harmful and deserve to be seen. It is also about problem solving, and hope.
The systemic issue of mental illness and its manifestation in individual people’s lives is not a stand alone issue. So it can be overwhelming to consider in a wider context because how the hell are we supposed to solve everything? I get it. It can be overwhelming, scary, and sometimes makes me want to just give up. But what if we chose to see intersectionality as empowering and a source of hope? Because it means we’re not just isolated as mental health advocates, or people who care about climate justice, or people who are trying to solve poverty. It means we are united as people who care. Understanding intersectionality, and continuing to be aware of how our understanding and circumstances may shift, allows us to be more creative in our solutions and more effective in our actions.
If we start to realise mental health care also means community care then we are not left helplessly shouting into an abyss; perhaps instead we are empowered to create a community event, or connect with friends in a more intentional way. If we realise mental health care also means food security, then we are empowered to donate to our local food banks and come up with innovative ways to share with our community. If we realise mental health care means antiracism then we are empowered to learn and be intentional in sharing this learning with the next generation. When we realise mental health care is intersectional, we actually create stronger bonds, stronger supports, and stronger futures.
We cannot shut our eyes to the world around us. But we might have a little bit of power over how we choose to view it. This country is becoming more and more authoritarian, and I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say it is sliding towards fascism in many ways.
From the 3rd May more laws restricting and criminalising protest – including union action! – will come into effect. Over the weekend over 50 people were arrested for protesting peacefully during the coronation ‘celebrations’ – which cost millions while more people than ever are below the poverty line. A country without protest is not a democracy. A country where the gap between rich and poor continues to widen with government support is not looking after its citizens. We cannot ignore this and we cannot allow this, and we have to recognise how it relates to all our social justice issues. How can we ever hope to see a country with good mental health if people do not have free speech and cannot afford to eat?
The good news is, resistance isn’t one size fits all. And understanding intersectionality can allow us to fight back in an effective, loving way. If everyone who can supports their food bank and creates community driven initiatives to eradicate food insecurity, the government can’t ignore it. If the artists create art, and the people who can protest go to protests, and the workers all strike, then it sends a message loud and clear that they can try all they want, but we aren’t having it. We care about each other and we want to see a brighter future. And that big message starts with small actions. It starts with having a conversation, donating a can of beans, drawing a picture, and offering to help out a neighbour. Even if you’re only making a difference to one person, and even if that person is you, you are still making a difference. Never think you cannot make a difference; it’s at least worth a try. However that looks for you, even if it looks like rest right now. You matter. And it all intersects.
Sending so much love and support to you all today xxx