‘Keep Calm and Carry On,’ a slogan adapted from posters distributed by the British Government in 1939 during the build up to the Second World War. The poster was intended to raise the morale of the British public during a time of imminent air strikes.
I feel that the damage caused by this thoughtless slogan continued long after the war had ended, with the demobilisation of thousands of men returning to Blighty. What is often portrayed as a young couple sharing a loving embrace on the platform of a station, with the imminent return to marital bliss, is now known to be far from the truth of post war life for these families.
These young men suffered horrifically from the horrors of war. Post traumatic stress disorder, insomnia, guilt, fear, anxiety, panic, how did society expect a whole generation to go through such trauma and then return to life as they previously knew it? Were these families expected to ‘Keep Calm and Carry On?’ What support was available for these people?
This attitude of ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ has long resided within our society here in Great Britain. People are not encouraged to talk about their ‘feelings’ but to just get on with it and to toughen up. I think that this is even more so for boys
Fears and anxieties are trivialised by parents, teachers, employers, friends. With others making comparisons of our own emotions, ‘if you think you have it bad then you should think about…’ and ‘oh it could be worse.’ It is like our emotions and thoughts have been shut down before we have even begun.
Telling people that they are alright when actually, they know that they are not, is a direct attack on their own personal judgement of their situation. People think that they are helping when in fact they are doing the opposite, causing individuals to question themselves and push problems deeper.
Mental health is something that I spend a lot of time studying and researching, it is an extremely important aspect of my job and the work that I do to support young children and their families. My own mental health is something that I care passionately about and after having Cass my need to know as much as possible order to support him, grew.
On average, around 6,000 people take their own life by suicide in the UK every year. Around three quarters of all suicide attempts in 2016, were male. Mental illness is killing our family and friends, and it is terrifying.
So as my little boy is growing up I will encourage him to, STOP, talk to someone, work it through, get help, get answers, make a plan, don’t just fucking ‘Keep Calm and Carry On.’ We should all take time to listen and support each other, give our family, friends, partners, children, students time to speak to find someone that they can trust and someone that cares about what makes them scared, and really make a difference.
It is ok to not be ok.