President Roosevelt once said, “comparison is the thief of joy”. And hey, he has a point! You might think your colleague has a shinier car, that their job is superior, or that their children are less trouble than yours.
On the other hand, you can look at others and think that your life tops theirs! Why wouldn’t it? You earn more money than them, you might even think your new hairstyle is miles better than theirs.
Comparison can sometimes feel unavoidable. It doesn’t stop at what we have, it can also influence how we feel. The “there’s always someone worse off than you” narrative can invalidate our own feelings, and sadly, we can invalidate the feelings of others by thinking their lives are better than ours.
The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is ‘mental health for all’ and this means recognising that everyone has mental health. It can suffer and it can prosper, just like physical health. Of course, there are things we can do to prevent our health worsening, like getting enough exercise or eating a healthy diet, but sometimes it is out of our control. We all have mental health and it can be fragile.
It was only in July that we saw Simone Biles, a 4 time Olympic gold medalist decide that enough was enough and that her mental health had to come first, so she pulled out of the women’s gymnastics team final. For this, she met some controversy. Notably, Piers Morgan suggested that her mental health issues were a “go-to excuse for any poor performance in elite sport”. This is particularly harmful to the message that poor mental health can affect anyone. Simone Biles is not immune from it just because she is an elite athlete, and neither is anyone else.
Noting that mental health is for everyone, is also recognising that help for mental health should be available and accessible for everyone. Organisations such as The Mental Health Foundation lobby the government for greater investment and greater access for mental health. This means quality mental health services will be available when someone needs them, without the worry of financial hardship. Visit https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/get-involved to find out more.
This October has hopefully been a time for you to reflect on how you honestly feel, without comparison to others, and if it hasn’t been, start now. Appreciate, acknowledge and process how your emotions make you feel, regardless of external influences, and appreciate that this applies to everyone else as well. We all have mental health.