It's hard to believe that almost a year ago we all heard the news of the sad passing of Caroline Flack. I'm sure we were all more than aware of the struggles she faced in her last few months and I don't think any of us expected it to end in the way it did. What it did cause was a discussion about mental health, the impact of suicide, and the importance of 'being kind'. Maybe if this discussion had been had before her death and those people who were hounding her and then suddenly afterwards started telling people to be kind had just been kind in the first place, she may still be here. But we shouldn't be dwelling on whether or not she would still be here if these things hadn't happened. What I am here to talk about with you today is how her death affected the views people in the UK have about mental health and why it is important that we continue to have these conversations and strive for a society where mental health is treated in the same way that physical health is.
Before Caroline's death, she had put out a post on Instagram, stating that she had tried to open up to a close friend and that 'friend' called her draining. People who suffer badly with their mental health are not draining. We struggle with things that those who don't struggle with those things can find it difficult to comprehend and often don't know what to say in response as a way of offering help to that person. Sometimes, we are not asking that person to have all the answers or to give us advice on what to do. We do it as a way for us to just let out our emotions and to release a weight off our shoulders because talking really does help. Obviously, this should be done if we know the other person is in the right headspace to listen to us as if someone is not in that headspace then that can cause even more damage to them and their mental health. 'Draining' is the wrong word to use, on so many levels, when it comes to someone really opening up to you about the state of their mental health. It takes so much for someone with any mental illness to open up to anyone about how they are really feeling and when their feelings are dismissed in whatever way, this can really destroy them and make them believe that they shouldn't talk to anyone about it again through fear of the same thing happening again.
I think in this day and age of social media, it is so easy to scrutinise people and this can often be led by the media or just by people being 'keyboard warriors' and saying something behind a screen that they definitely wouldn't say to that person's face. What we saw with Caroline Flack was so many people saying things based on what they had seen in the press that none of us knows the full extent of what actually happened. I feel it is such a shame that there are still people out there who feel the need to continuously be hateful and have no regard for the words they use and the effect they will have on those they are talking about. I often wonder if people had shown the kindness they seemed to show upon the announcement of her death while she was still alive if she would still be here today. But like I said earlier, there is no point in speculating what may or may not have happened if that was the case.
That's another thing about Caroline's death, and pretty much any suicide-related death. Many people are often not around and some may not even show any compassion while they are still alive, and yet when they die they are so quick to send out their condolences. In the case of Caroline's death, a lot of people were saying how important it is to reach out to people to get help if you are feeling suicidal or suffering from your mental health in any way. However, when I went on Twitter a few days later when that series of Love Island (a show Caroline had previously hosted for those of you who did not know her or weren't aware of the work she did) was put back on air after a short hiatus following her death, so many people were on there saying cruel comments about the contestants on the show. Some of these people had been tweeting a few days previously about the importance of being kind, yet they, at that moment, seemed unable to show any kindness themselves. We always seem to respond to people's cries for help way too late. As I have said previously, we are a society that is way too reactive and we really need to start becoming more proactive. Instead of reacting at the moment to yet another death by suicide, how about we actually start doing something about the way in which those who need help regarding their mental health receive it.
Anyone who has ever tried to get professional help for their mental health will be more than aware that, unless they can afford to go private, there is an incredibly long waiting list to receive therapy and there have even been cases where people have been told that they are not suicidal enough to receive the help they need. I saw a case on Twitter recently where someone's dad had lost his business as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and due to this he fell into a deep depression and ended up going to the doctor's to try and get help. What he was told was that he wasn't suicidal enough to get that help and was sent away. That man then committed suicide just a few days later. I know the NHS is under an immense strain right now more than ever, but we are also in the midst of one of the worst mental health crises we have ever come across (at least in my lifetime). So much more needs to be done so that no one is left behind in regards to their mental health and I think we all know there is so much more that can be done in order to prevent any more mental health-related deaths. The thing with mental health-related deaths is they can always be easily prevented by people speaking up when they need help and actually receiving the help and support they need. I for one certainly don't want to hear about another mental health-related death in the news, but the sad reality is that this will happen and it will continue to happen until action is taken to put more money and support into this country's mental health services so that more people can receive this support and not be put on the end of an incredibly long waiting list.
Some time before her death, Caroline had put a post up on Instagram of a quote saying 'in a world where you can be anything, be kind'. That quote is still very much applicable today and is one I, and I'm sure a lot of you reading this, will carry with me until the day I die. It is so incredibly important to be kind to people, especially when you don't always know what's going on in their life. Sure, there are times when people should be called out for what they've said or done, such as if they say something racist or homophobic, as that sort of language is NOT okay.
My parents always told me to treat people how I want to be treated and that if I've got nothing nice to say then don't say anything at all. I think we should all be applying these two things to our daily lives and just start being kind to one another. If you don't like something about someone then that's fine, we're not all meant to like everything about one another and we're never all going to be friends with each other. But at the end of the day, we all have one thing in common and that is that we are all a part of the human race. We all have feelings. We all have a heart. So let's just be kind to one another. After all, you really do never know what someone is going through, no matter how they appear on the outside, and that thing you say about them, whether you say it directly to them or you say it on social media, could be the one thing that makes them turn to suicide. I don't know about you, but I could never live with myself if I had done that to someone.
Just remember: in a world where you can be anything, be kind.
Love Beth xx
*If any of you are struggling with anything, whether that's mental health or anything else, please check out my helplines page, or alternatively, please feel free to get in touch via, Instagram, Twitter, or email*