Today, is world mental health awareness day.
Thankfully, today, we DO talk more openly about mental health and illness – we are much more aware of the different issues that may affect some of us. We are better equipped to know the signs that we need to look out for – yet so many of us who experience mental health issues report that we still feel alone with all of this.
So, what do we need to do next, in order to make sure that we ALL feel supported and are better equipped to deal with things?
Treat everybody as an individual – no two people will experience the same issues.
I think that one of the most important things to think about is how we label conditions – it can feel like such a relief when someone takes that first step to talk to a professional about how they have been feeling – and get a ‘diagnosis’ …. but how many times have you seen someone you know say on social media that they have x, y or z, and 20 people comment with ‘yeah me too…’ and then proceed to go on to tell that person how they must be feeling and what they need to do about it.
This at first glance can seem like understanding, unity and bonding – but the person on the receiving end of it may feel like ‘despite all of these people telling me that they get how I feel, I still feel SO lonely’.
Even if YOU have anxiety, how you and that other person will experience it, and the story behind it, will be two very different things…….
My advice on this? Rather than try and show solidarity, say I have had this too, but have no idea how YOU are feeling because we are different, so I am here if you ever want to talk to me’.
Let the person talk about how they are feeling with no judgement.
Go easy on the ‘let’s talk about it’. Not everybody WANTS to talk about things.
Yes it’s great that we can talk more openly about mental health issues – but some people don’t always want to talk about things, and so for those people, the feeling that they are being forced to talk about something, because it is ‘good for you’, can make them feel like even more of a failure, when they shy away from discussing things.
Let people know that you are there for them, have an open door, but if you find out that someone you know has a mental health issue, and they say that they don’t want to talk about it, don’t just assume that it means that they are hiding things.
My advice on how to deal with this? Naturally we do need to be aware that there WILL be some people who avoid talking about things when perhaps they need to, and they somehow slip under our radar. So, don’t be shy about telling those around you that you are always there for them, but don’t put them in a position where they feel they have to talk to you.
Sometimes, what a person with mental health issues needs, is to just be spoken to like someone other than a walking label. Often, when someone is diagnosed with something, it can feel like it is all that people then talk about and this can be soul destroying. I have worked with clients who almost begin to resent their condition, because they want to be seen as ‘Rita’ or ‘John’ again, and not ‘Rita, you know, the one with Bipolar’.
Addressing mental health issues, doesn’t have to be complicated – simply letting someone know that you are there for them and leaving the door open for them, whilst taking time to observe from the side lines and remind them of your presence if and when you feel they need it is brilliant.
Awareness is KEY but smothering somebody with a mental health issue, making them feel constantly like there is something wrong with them, or going to the other extreme and saying ‘chin up, you just need to get out more’ can be awful for the person on the receiving end of it.
KEEP IT REAL, BE YOU, BE THERE, BE AUTHENTIC, BE A GREAT LISTENER, AND ALWAYS LEAVE THE DOOR OPEN – OFTEN, THE PERSON WITH A MENTAL HEALTH ISSUE JUST NEEDS TO FEEL THAT THEY DONT HAVE TO BRUSH THINGS UNDER THE CARPET, AND ARE ABLE TO THEN DEAL WITH WHAT THEY NEED TO DEAL WITH HOWEVER THEY CHOOSE TO DEAL WITH IT.
It’s great though isn’t it, that we are seeing so many posts on social media today and that people finally feel that they can talk about things….
Let’s never change that
Have a great weekend,