Autumn 2011 editorial: It’s up to us
Life is all about change. Whether we like it or not, change is always happening. Autumn for most of us tends to be a melancholy season, a season between extremes, a season of change. Summer is ending and winter is waiting in the lengthening shadows, hiding beneath the fallen leaves. Autumn’s the season where we start to draw our curtains earlier and spend time taking stock of where we’re at and where we’re going.
In one way or another, most of the articles in this issue of One in Four are about change.
Change is often scary, even when it’s for the better. Seaneen Molloy’s article about returning to the workplace captures that sense of fear mixed with determination that many of us feel when we try to make a change in our lives. Caroline Holroyd’s article about being cared for and the way that it changes the dynamic of relationships is the same. Our front page article looks at more drastic kinds of change; the change that comes when something ends. There’s always a tension between the comfort we feel with familiar things and the anxiety that change brings.
As we go to press the Heath and Social Care Bill and the Welfare Reform Bill are continuing their progress through Parliament. Taken alongside the continued effects of the economic downturn and other government and local authority policies these bills potentially represent a massive change to many aspects of life for people with mental health difficulties.
The message is the same. Change is inevitable, but it’s not something about which we have to be passive. We all – some of us in large ways, some of us in small – have the abilities and skills to find ways of making things work. Sometimes this means finding a helping hand and, at other times, that means recognising where we’re the people who might provide help to others.
Despite how we might feel, we do have power to make changes in our lives, even if it’s incredibly hard to feel that when events threaten to swamp us. It’s up to us to support people who are working hard to make things work and to find the support of people who understand the challenges that having a mental health difficulty can present.
It’s important for us to remember that mental health difficulty is something that crosses boundaries and affects people from all walks of life and backgrounds. We must avoid the twin mistakes of ignoring the differences between people with mental health difficulties and focusing too much on those differences to the exclusion of engaging with the wider world of debate and action. As the government cuts and economic changes continue to bite, it’s going to become harder to focus on where we want to get to in mental health and easier to focus on what’s going wrong.
It’s up to us, wherever we can, to support positive changes and to lend our support to those opposing negative ones. Sometimes to be able to move forward we need to let go of what has come before. Right now we need to make sure that we don’t lose sight of changes we want to happen to make life better.
We need to hold onto hope, no matter how bitter and hard won that hope is. Things can get better but the path to them being better is seldom simple and straight. In fact, the path through change is often obscure, confusing and distressing without a guide, a map or a torch to light the way.
Which is where we hope One in Four comes in.
Mark Brown, Editor, September 2011