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LAURA CRAIK IS UPFRONT

Laura Craik on why mental health isn’t just for a week, millennial style-shaming and whether Jen and Ben should be on again

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week, so maybe I shouldn’t be writing about mental health this week because columns are supposed to be topical. Alas, mental health issues don’t really respect calendars: they rear up any time, from anywhere, like unwelcome guests with vast suitcases that make you dread how long they’ll stay. The truth is that I’ve been too busy dealing with a loved one’s mental health issues even to register that it was Mental Health Awareness Week, but now that I know, I would like to say this.

It is really thoughtful when friends try to persuade sufferers to go for a walk, talk to someone or treat themselves, because knowing they are loved can make a real difference. It’s even more important to encourage sufferers to reach out and ask for help. But the help isn’t there. It. Isn’t. There.

And until mental health services in London are more adequately funded, nor will it be. People will keep dying of the mental health issues they’re told not to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. On the one hand this means they won’t be ashamed or embarrassed any more. But they will also be dead.

That death seems the only way out is a despair that no human should ever have to feel. Most sufferers need meaningful professional help, not meaningless virtue signalling. It’s not good enough for organisations to keep printing a phone number for Samaritans.

“Mental health issues rear up any time, like unwelcome guests with vast suitcases
that make you dread how long they’ll stay”

It’s not good enough to send emails wishing people ‘a happy and positive Mental Health Awareness Week’ before trying to flog your sofas in the next breath. ‘At xxxx, we believe that styling your space with well-being in mind can make a massive, mood-boosting difference,’ reads one. Really, hun? That’s nice for you. May your life always be full of rainbows and unicorns.

Across London and the UK, child and adult mental health services are on their knees. So yes, in a world where you can be anything, be kind. But also be vocal. Speak up, sign petitions, donate. Passive empathy is lovely, but activism is even better.

Talking about mental health: help isn’t always at hand

Cool it, millennials

Cheugwars (n) a feud between Gen Z and millennials over the word ‘cheugy’, coined by Gen Z to describe people whose clothes and lifestyle choices are predictable and cribbed off Instagram (examples include: Starbucks coffee, Gucci belts and New York Yankees caps).

Millennials have taken offence that this insults their style, a Peak Millennial thing to do, forgetting as it does the age-old trope that young people are supposed to find older people uncool. Take it on the chin, Millennials: it’s good practice for when your teenage kids start slagging off everything you say, do, eat, drink and wear.

J-Lo and Ben hold

In the pantheon of portmanteaus, Bennifer was one of the least awkward: it rolled off the tongue more smoothly than Jelena or Hiddleswift. Which is pretty much the only positive about J-Lo and Ben Affleck’s relationship, which ended in 2004 due to ‘excessive media attention’, according to themselves.

If so, the fact they seem to have rekindled their relationship 17 years later is odd: do they think the world’s paparazzi died collectively of Covid-19? If Jen and Ben are trying to recapture their pre-pandemic innocence, they’re far from the only ones. But there are easier ways than going out with an ex. Go watch Gilmore Girls. It’ll probably end better.

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