Today, the 10th of October, is known internationally as World Mental Health Day. People from all walks of life use today to raise awareness on the importance of mental health, share their stories, celebrate the things they’ve overcome and show support for all those facing any sort of struggle.
We’ve come a long way with regards to taking mental health seriously here in Malta, but days like today are still super relevant because mental health is still treated as a sort of taboo.
Mental health affects us all, and we all need to keep an eye on ourselves from time to time.
Stress at home or in the workplace, a tragic loss, a busy period, illness, arguments… these are all things that affect our mental health, and its important for us to be aware that we need to take care of ourselves in every sense of the word.
Especially here in Malta, because the island is full of stressors and triggers that can affect our mental health.
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with a mood disorder or not, it can be easy to find yourself falling into a spell of depression or anxiety with everything that’s going on around us.
1. Malta is really (really) loud
Sometimes you need some peace and quiet to try and get your thoughts in order, but finding that piece and quiet in Malta isn’t the easiest. With the constant construction and traffic, our homes and other residential areas are bound to fall victim to an unfortunate sound effect. Plus we all live really close to each other, and there are event venues everywhere!
So your only chance of getting some peace and quiet is if you head off to a field or open area somewhere on the outskirts of the island, which is probably going to be occupied by a handful of people already.
2. We have little to no open spaces
Claustrophobia in Malta is real. We’re over-populated and over-built, and its only going to get worse. All of our open and green spaces are being bought by developers and turned into hotels. And flats. And complexes. And more flats.
It’s not that easy to immerse yourself in nature and breathe in the fresh air, because it’s almost all gone.
3. Everyone knows everyone
And while that can sometimes be a good thing, it’s not always. You can’t get a break from interaction (unless you lock yourself inside), news travels really quickly, and events can be overwhelming.
Plus for people who struggle to make (and maintain) friendships, this can make them feel ostracised and isolated.
4. There’s constant unrest
Life in Malta hasn’t really been easy sailing for the past few years. Not unless you know how to disconnect yourself from everything that’s going on around you. People aren’t happy with the way things are being run, there’s a lot of violence going on, the increase in protests…. it can be too much sometimes.
If you’re somebody who’s in tune with your surroundings, it can be difficult to remain positive when everything (and everyone) else seems to be so negative.
5. The pressure to succeed is pretty heavy
For the most part, we’re expected to follow this basic formula:
-Go to school
-Go to sixth form
-Go to university
-Get a job
-Live happily ever after
And whilst we’re slowly moving away from this cookie-cutter version of a life, some members of the older generation still expect this to be The Thing. So if that’s not how your life works out, or you don’t want it to work out like that, it can feel like all eyes are on you.
There’s also a lot of pressure to look presentable, remain fashionable but respectable, be in shape, look healthy… and of course because you can’t leave the house without seeing somebody you know, the pressure rarely goes away.
This is not to say that because of this, we’re all mentally ill
But, it just means that for people who struggle with their mental health, it can be a lot. And for those who don’t, the climate is still a pretty stressful one. So just take some time to check on your friends, and maybe stop honking your horn at people in the street.
Remember that you don’t always know what the people around you are going through. So today – and every other day! – try to treat people with kindness.