If you have a really good dig down the back of your sofa and scrape together the £180,000 you’d need, you could buy yourself a Ferrari 458 (in the obligatory Ferrari red, obviously).
With nearly 500 horses under the bonnet, it’ll take you from 0-60mph in just three seconds and, if the law permitted and the roads were clear, could take you from London to Liverpool in just under an hour.
Chances are, having found yourself in the lucky position to be able to afford to buy one, you wouldn’t then drive your shiny new supercar through a ploughed field or pull donuts on a gravel drive.
And why? Well, because a hundred and eighty grand is a fair bit of money, you’re probably quite proud of the car and having invested so heavily in a machine that comes as close as it’s possible to come to engineering perfection, you want to look after it.
So, can we talk about your mental health for a moment?
Obviously, it’s impossible to compare your mind to an Italian sports car. For a start, the sports car is tangible; it exists. It is physically present. Your mind is none of these things. It’s an abstract. Intangible and absent of form, it’s a no more than an amalgam of synapses and triggers that together form consciousness and sub-consciousness.
But just as your Ferrari will accelerate at a speed so great you’ll experience the same G-Force you get when taking off in a commercial airliner, and despite the fact it has no physical reality, your mind comes with its own set of impressive abilities.
It can assess threat and create responses designed to keep you safe; it can apply moral parameters to any situation; it solves problems, makes decisions, measures and evaluates choices and a zillion other things. And it does all those things several million times faster than a Ferrari can get to 60 miles per hour.
We’re talking about an unseen machine that takes nanoseconds to keep us walking, talking, moving, living, enjoying, feeling, hoping, loving, smiling and crying. And I’d argue each of those abilities is worth something far greater than £180,000.
So, what is it that, in our actions and behaviour at least, makes us value a bright red car more than we value the silent and unseen miracle of creation or evolution (let’s not get into a religious debate here) that makes us who we are?
Or, put a different way, why would you buy a Ferrari and then not service it?
The answer, I suspect, is that we live in a tangible world and it’s the very invisibility of self that makes us take for granted the millions of miracles that happen daily inside ourselves.
It’s no surprise, therefore, that we’re generally not so great at looking after other people – even when we think we are. And that’s logical, isn’t it? If we don’t think to regularly service our own mental health, how can we possibly think to service the emotional health of others?
This is particularly an issue for business, which in general terms is notoriously bad at looking after employee mental health. Which is ironic, when you think about it, because – and as I’ve written about very recently – the wellbeing, contentment and happiness of employees pretty much determines the health of the bottom line.
But it’s something we all need to get to grips with. I’ve written often and extensively about the scale of the mental health crisis we face not just in the UK but on a global scale, but the solution isn’t global at all.
It’s small and it’s personal. It starts with me and it starts with you. And it means having the courage to put our own mental health first. Because if those of us who can were to do that, more of us would be in a much better position to look out for those of us who can’t.
It means saying no when demand exceeds reasonable expectation. It means removing ourselves from situations that are destructive (and that will occasionally take great courage and support). It means asking for help instead of trying to go it alone.
It means we need to start thinking of our mental health as the supercar it really is, rather than the jalopy that we allow to fill with the detritus of our circumstances.
A car is only as good as the maintenance it gets. Your mind is no different.