This year I was kindly asked by that there Scarlett Curtis if I'd contribute to their new curated book on mental health and wellbeing. My rant sits along side the thoughts of Sam Smith, Emma Thompson, Miranda Hart and Naomi Campbell - what a bunch!
I don't often use my digital space to talk about the brain but this felt like a platform I couldn't ignore. I (of course) decided to write about class in relation to being a bit mental. Below I've pasted an excerpt, a little taster of my contribution.
Saint Stephen Fry thinks the book is "the freshest, clearest, most direct, honest and urgent collection of writings about mental health that I've read" so perhaps you should buy it for yourself, or for someone who might need it.
With the self care regimes, therapy and systems of care in place I seem to spend a lot of time thinking about depression, why it is so present in every generation of my family and its relationship to our bond. Each of us have lived lives that are full of trauma, trauma that has had a lasting effect, trauma inflicted upon us as a result of us each growing up in poverty, with parents who are processing their own trauma, growing up in sub standard social housing surrounded by really complex social issues, depravity, violence - all whilst attempting to survive, to get on, keep going.
Something I feel is missing from our discussions on mental health is the c word - class. Mental health discourse often likes to present a world of brain parity, a culture in which we all experience the same sort of mental health stuff and so therefor be ‘fixed’ or ‘cured’ with one remedy. If you look at the voices who take up prolific, public space during Mental Health Awareness Month you’d think depression and its cousins only affected the white middle classes, most of whom have letters after their name.
In a time when we’re all attempting to acknowledge privilege I think it’s more vital than ever to acknowledge class in conversations on mental health. Being common and poor has informed so much of my family's relationship with our brains - from the speed we are able to address it, the help that is available to us, lack of support navigating the complex systems, understanding the languages and terminology and most importantly the slow and painful acknowledgement of how our social standing has contributed to the ways our brain works ...and don’t work.