If my leg was broken I’d tell you…

… and it would be a straightforward, simple conversation to have. I’d probably tell you how it happened, that it was painful and that I needed time off to recuperate because of it.

So… Why can’t I say that some days I don’t have great mental health?

Why is it so difficult to be honest, open and have a simple conversation about it?

If we think about it, mental health is like physical health, we all have it. Sometimes our mental health is robust and we can deal with anything that comes our way, other times we find we can’t cope and we get weighed down by simple things.

Mental health issues can begin for a variety of reasons, and it will be a unique experience or reason for most people. Factors, like the examples listed below, can be reasons for mental health issues arising:

  • loneliness
  • stress
  • experiencing discrimination
  • physical causes
  • illnesses
  • miscarriage
  • significant trauma as a child or adult.

It’s important to know that mental health doesn’t always stay the same, it changes over time for people. So you or someone you know who lives with mental health challenges can and will shift through their experience of it. So, just like someone who has broken their leg, one day they can’t move around easily, then months later they are back up and running again.

It’s important we all work to remove the stigma of mental health problems. That we speak about it and be ok listening, talking about it – even if it at first feels uncomfortable. It’s ok if it does, we’re only human, but please stick with it – really and truly listen to the person in front of you and tell them you’re happy to listen.

I can’t even tell you how much it helped me when close friends, and family said they were happy to listen to me if I wanted to talk, that they didn’t judge me or feel uncomfortable when I was sharing how I was feeling. How they messaged me the next day checking in, being ‘normal’ with me but also gently inquiring how I was. How much it helped me when they stuck with me, even when I felt I was being negative and didn’t want ‘my low mood to impact them’.

So, rather than listing here the different symptoms people can experience when they have mental health issues… you can find that easily enough online. Check out MIND, Mental Health Foundation, and many others. Instead, I’d like to share a starting point for how you can support yourself or someone else. And if you have other ideas and suggestions, I’d appreciate you sharing them with me.

How can you help yourself?

  • Talk to someone (friend, family member, GP, confidential helpline)
  • Keep a journal / mood diary to help you identify how you’re feeling
  • Get out into nature as research has identified that being in nature can have positive impact on our physical and mental health
  • Make time for relaxation doing activities that help you find calmness and relaxation
  • Focus on your breathing & be mindful – the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends mindfulness to prevent low mood and anxiety.

How can you help someone you know?

  • Listen, really really listen with no intention to respond, interject or offer help (unless they ask for it)
  • Be patient and kind sometimes someone with a mental health issue won’t have ‘answers’ or a reason for how they are feeling
  • Be normal! acting as you normally would together might be just what they need
  • Remember, there is no ‘one size fits all’ way to support someone, it will depend on you and the person you want to support.

Other resources I’d like to share

I truly hope this article has been useful to you.

I would love to hear your reflections and ideas on this topic, so please comment below or send me a message.

With kindness and hugs,

Fiona




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2 Comments

  1. Christopher-Reply
    May 10, 2021 at 11:31 am

    Very clear explanation which has all the essential ingredients to help (or be supportive).
    I guess it is also about identifying the root cause(s). Thanks for sharing.

  2. May 12, 2021 at 11:42 am

    Thank you for reading and commenting Christopher, and yes, you make a good point. Identifying the why and working through that is important.

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