It’s okay NOT to be okay | Mental Health Awareness Week

On occasion of the Mental Health Awareness Week, our HR Lead Marie Downes talks about it and emphasises an usually forgotten but extremely important aspect of it: language. How do we approach Mental Health? Is the way we talk about us and our problems helping us? I find it fascinating that in English, we tend to focus on the protagonist (“I knocked the cup over”) more than speakers of Spanish, who tend to omit the protagonist (“The cup was knocked over”) and focus on the object. One study found that English speakers are more likely to remember the protagonist of accidental events and to a degree one would think, to attach blame. It’s a linguistic quirk but it’s intriguing how this can segue into behaviour. There’s a brilliant TED presentation by Lera Boroditsky1, a cognitive scientist (one of the authors of the above study), who maintains that the language we speak shapes the way that we think. It’s THAT transformative. There’s a charming and thought-provoking passage in Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ where she discusses the differences between her native language and that of Italian: “We were talking the other evening about the phrases one uses when trying to comfort… continue reading

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