Let’s talk about Mental Health?
1 in 4 of us will experience a Mental Health problem during our lifetime.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, 1 in 6 young people are now struggling with their mental health as opposed to 1 in 10 pre-pandemic.
1 in 5 people have thoughts of suicide and 1 in 15 sadly attempt suicide.
You may be worried about your own mental health or maybe someone you know is struggling and has spoken to you about their feelings. They may be showing signs you are unfamiliar with and their mood has changed.
Some of the more well-known symptoms of someone struggling with their mental health are:
Anxious or irritable
Saying or doing unusual things
Struggling to cope with work or studies
Problems with concentration or memory
but you may not even notice anything as things like depression can often be invisible. Do not feel guilty if you haven’t noticed.
What you can do is:
- Keep in touch – even if it’s just a weekly call or text to check how they are. Let them know they can get in touch with you if they need to talk. This is a simple, low-pressure way to tell them you’re there for them.
- Encourage them to get out and about. A walk in the local park or a visit to an art gallery can be a great way to lift their spirits and allow them to talk if they want to. Avoid nights out drinking as alcohol can make depression worse.
- Ask them how they’re looking after themselves and whether there’s anything you can do to support them, such as helping them find a counsellor or looking after their children while they go to a therapy appointment.
- Listen properly. Just letting someone talk – and cry if they need to – can be invaluable. You don’t need to have answers for them. Giving them time and space to talk is one of the most supportive things you can do.
What you shouldn’t do
- Tell them to pull themselves together or snap out of it – they would if they could.
- Point out all the positives in their life. Depression is an illness that makes it very difficult for people to feel hopeful or optimistic, and telling them to count their blessings is likely to make them feel guilty and ashamed.
- Pressure them to talk about their mental health all the time. Let them know they can if they want to – that’s crucial – but remember simply getting them out of the house or talking about other things may be just as helpful.
- Assume they’re better after a few weeks or months. Even if someone seems brighter for a while, this doesn’t necessarily mean their depression has gone for good. Depression can be long term and some people are susceptible to recurring bouts of depression. Those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) will also tend to feel very low and lethargic during the winter months.
Most of all let them know you are there for them.
Mental Health UK, Rethink, Mindwise, Hafal and Support in Scotland have published a very helpful guide, ‘how does it feel’ to help everyone get the help and information they need.
It is important that people are able to access correct information and the opportunity to receive support for their Mental Health regardless of their age, wealth, ethnicity or postcode.