2018-05-10

The stigma around mental health – speak up, speak out

Stop and smile graffiti

Mental health awareness is something that we should all discuss more. The Facebook wall posts asking “if you read this, repost now” trying to break the stigma of talking about mental health, but in a way that’s not actually talking about it. Reposting something via Facebook does not honestly reach those who are suffering. Those who need the comfort, the reassurance and the support.  Words and a hashtag will not help, but you can.

Thinking by window

In the last week two of my very dear friends spoke up about their battle with mental health and with their feelings that suicide was the only way forward for them. I spoke with fellow bloggers at a recent conference and people told me how they had been struggling mentally and did not see a way out. There are also people I love, suffering with their metal health due to relationship issues too. So if so many of us are suffering, why do we still treat it like it’s something to be ashamed of? With May being mental health awareness week, it’s time to speak up.

I too have my demons, I have mentioned before that I suffer with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and panic attacks. I have my good days and bad days – I like to play medication snap with people as it makes people realise that they do not have to hide the fact they are seeking help and have been given tablets to help. The stigma around medication and mental health is something that we need to change. This month we also see the return of the Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, I have previously writhing about how this show glorifies suicide to teens, and now with its return it is even more important that we listen to those around us.

Falling apart in word tiles

If you know that someone is suffering there are things that you can do that will help.

  • Ask someone how they are, honestly. Do not accept the expected British answer of “I’m fine”. Talking is critical and can really help.
  • Give them time. If people are struggling it may take them a while to reply to messages. Let them know you are there for them when they are ready.  Many people who suffer with mental health convince themselves that people have forgotten about them or that because of how they are, people don’t want them around. Make sure that you let people know that you will wait if they need you to.
  • Ask if you can help. Do they need you to run some errands, make a phone call for them, or just be there for some company. It may just be sitting watching a movie together, but the simple act of being there means a lot.
  • Do not tell them to shake it off, man up, forget about it, or treat them as if it’s just something that they can snap out of. Yes, they may have been fine yesterday, but each day is a challenge and things may rock the boat suddenly which can cause set backs.
  • If they reach out to you for help, do not dismiss it. Sometimes speaking up and asking for help from a friend or family member can be the hardest task as it feels like failure. The cry for help may be small, pay attention.
  • Make a care package. It can just be a few things like chocolate, a magazine, a bath bomb. (Yes, even for blokes) something that if they do need some alone time, they at least know that someone is thinking of them.
  • Tell your friends you love them. The phrase “I love you” seems to be reserved for romantic relationships, when friends and family you love dearly should be told this too. Tell those who mean the most to you that you love them. In the darkest of times that can be a real glimmer of hope.
  • If someone talks about suicide, do not try and push guilt onto them by making it about you or other people. It’s not needed, in most cases they already have buckets of guilt which is why it seems like an option. Instead get them to talk to you about their feelings and offer to get them the correct help they need.

These are just a few things you can do. I am sure that many of you will have extra things that you can add, and I would love for you to post your suggestions in the comments below.

 

Do not be afraid to speak up and know that there is always someone who will support you no matter what.

Love, hugs and chocolate buttons

V x

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