In the UK, approximately one in four adults suffer from a mental health problem each year.

Horse and RiderPersonally, I think everyone experiences some form of ill health during their lifetime. We accept stress as a given in today’s lifestyle. We almost feel bad if we’re not rushed off our feet all the time and stressed out. Most experience some level of body image issue, social media has made comparing our lives and bodies to others a daily occurrence.

Life will throw highs and lows at us. We will all have times where our mood is low, we may be angry or frustrated, feel anxious or go through a traumatic experience.

In my years as a mental health social worker, I saw all types of illness, from mild kinds that recover quickly to long term, severe and enduring problems that are debilitating. I’ve always thought of mental health on a spectrum, it’s no different to physical health. We all move and up and down both spectrums over the course of our lives. However, unlike physical health, mental illness carries a stigma, based on ignorance and misinformation. People are naturally wary of things they don’t know much about. Which is why it’s vital to get talking about it. To dispel the myths that surround this topic.

People experiencing mental health issues are not dangerous, weak, or weird. Mental health knows no boundaries and affects all ages, genders, ethnicities and classes.

The theme for this year is kindness. Sometimes people lose their way, and they forget to just be kind. People are overly critical and judgemental of others. Particularly in the equestrian world. Everyone was a beginner/ novice/ amateur once. The internet seems to bring out a terrible side of people. “Keyboard warriors “ and “sofa judges” we comment on others looks, ability to ride, statues in a way that we wouldn’t if we were face to face. Being unkind to someone will never make you a nicer person. I’ve learnt as I’ve got older to really listen to what the people around me say about others. My circle is small but those that are in it are positive. They’re not belittling other people and when I do come across those who take joy from others struggles I keep my distance. I don’t need people like that in my life. But I do sometimes feel sad that my circle is small, I wish more people could just be kind. People talk, and generally, if you say something bad about someone, it gets back to them.

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”

This saying is so underrated and should be taken on board by more people. Just be nice. It’s simple and actually not that difficult.

Being kind to yourself as well is vital when managing your mental health. As riders we tend to be overly critical of the horse. We are always told all mistakes are the riders , never the horse. Now while I believe this is true, it shouldn’t knock your confidence and make you feel like you’re not capable of improving and learning. We are all learning, and we all want to be the best riders we can. But it’s important not to beat yourself up, and low self-esteem is just not good for you. During these unusual times, a lot of people have had the opportunity to reevaluate what’s important. The kindness shown by some has been amazing. The people who are fighting the front line, the delivery workers, teachers, those who are shielding and isolating in order to protect themselves and others. It’s amazing.

As a society we can do great things and are capable of such kindness. So let’s keep talking about mental health, be kind to yourself and support others. Let’s face it, we need each other 💗