Today marks the end of mental health awareness week 2019. All week we’ve seen posts on mental health, looking after ourselves, celebrities speaking about their own mental health issues and even the Duke of Cambridge getting involved. But how much do you actually know about mental health? And how do you know if you or someone close to you is suffering from a mental illness? Or even worse, considering taking their own life?
According to mental health charity Mind ‘Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year’ that’s an average of 16 million people. Yet it’s not surprising, with the amount of pressure we put on ourselves and all the factors life throws our way. However, despite the endless discussions in the media on mental health, and how much we are urged to talk about it, we hardly do. Discussions with friends, relatives or peers are always about everything and anything, other than how we are feeling inside and what is really affecting us.
The words ‘that’s depressing’, ‘this is stress’ or ‘this is giving me anxiety’ often get said without much thought and most of us are so used to hearing them and saying them that we become immune as it becomes part of our everyday language. Not to mention the need to make our lives seem more fabulous than the last post we saw and to appear to be living ‘our best life’. The thing is, most people when really stressed, depressed, anxious or dealing with a serious issue, will hardly ever mention it. Therefore, unless you’re actively looking out for clues, it’ll be very difficult to tell if your close ones are dealing with a mental health issue.
You often find that when people commit suicide, no one had a clue they were thinking about doing to do it, let alone actually going through with it. We see this with celebrities who appear to be happy on social media, partying and living the dream one minute and then then gone the next. As well as with people who suddenly lose their best friends/relatives to suicide without a clue they were even mildly stressed. From the outside it seems ‘sudden’ but the reality is, this may have been eating the person up for months, even years without being noticed.
So how do you work out if your friend is suffering in silence before its too late? There’s no set way as everyone is different and everyone deals with his or her emotions differently. You may be in a relationship where your partner has become distant and doesn’t want to do much, they no longer have an interest in going out with you and seem to lack affection, this doesn’t necessarily mean he/she has fallen out of love with you but it may mean they’re dealing with depression. Or you may have a friend who is always happy, smiling laughing and up for a good time but needs to drunk six times a week.
Having a read and getting clued up on the different types of mental health issues your loved ones could be facing is a start as well as looking out for clues in behaviour such as distance, lack of interest, negativity, lack of confidence, alcohol/drug dependency, anger, change in eating habits and loss of interest in life in general.
One of the most important things we can do, as cliche as it sounds is ‘talk’ and ‘listen’ let someone know you are worried about them and listen to their response, try to understand by listening closely to their issue and don’t dismiss them by saying ‘it will be ok’, help hem think of ways to make it ok, and especially by urging them to seek professional help. Talking to a therapist doesn’t make us crazy it makes us better.
There is someone battling with a mental health issue every day of every week, so let’s not end the discussion today as we close mental health awareness week. Let’s keep talking about it.
Read more on mental health at the following sites.
The UK's first Career & Lifestyle Magazine for women in the Creative and Media industries.