Let’s Talk Mental Health – How To Help A Friend With Mental Health Issues

Following the, tragic death of one of the most adored fashion designers, Kate Spade, and after reading the circumstances around her death. I really feel that Mental Health needs to be talked about and acknowledged!

Ok, so Let’s Talk Mental Health. Yes, you heard or in this case ‘read’ me correctly…..

Mental Health!

PIN ME FOR LATER

lets talk mental health pin

I do know and I do understand that people see Mental Health as a ‘taboo’ subject. You know what i’m talking about? The whole ‘if we don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist’ attitude.

Well, i’m sorry to say Mental Health is REAL! Mental Health is NOT going to go away.

In fact, by the looks of it, its here to stay and is on the increase.

With 1 in 4 people, In the UK, experiencing Mental Health problems each year.

As the world is changing around us. The pace is faster, there is more expectations being put on to us to have ‘the perfect lives’. (Whatever that is) With worries about things like money and jobs, can make it harder for people to cope.

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It appears that how people cope with mental health problems is getting worse as the number of people who self-harm or have suicidal thoughts is increasing.

Again, In the UK, 21 in 100 people have had suicidal thoughts. 7 people in 100 have acted upon these thoughts and either self harmed or attempted to commit suicide.

With these figures, it makes it pretty likely that this will include people in your life – friends, family and people you work alongside.

But would you be able to recognise someone who is struggling with Mental health issues? What do you say to a friend with mental health issues? How can you help someone close to you struggling with mental health?

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My Personal Experience

I, myself have suffered with mental health issues in the past. It started in my teens when trapped in a vicious cycle of self doubt, self loathing, low self esteem. Always comparing myself to others that I became obsessed with thinking that being skinny meant you were more popular, prettier and worth more. I thought it would make me happy. How wrong I was. At the age of 16, I was diagnosed with Anorexia and Bulimia. Even at 5 and a half stone, I was determined to lose weight and get skinny! You can read about my experience at Do you ever wonder?

In my early twenties, I was a single Mum to my two eldest sons, I had a very little support network. I struggled massively with depression. You can read about my experience at Story Of A Young Mum 16 Years On

Then, after the birth of my fifth son, I was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression. You can read about my experience at Post Natal Depression – My Personal Experience 

Unfortunately, while I was going through all of this, my ‘friends’ pulled away from me. Distanced themselves, to the point that they stopped talking to me. I do believe if there was a better understanding of mental health issues, those friends of my past, could maybe be a part of my life now.

I know that they were all aware of my mental health issues.

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What to say and do when a friend has mental health issues…

Say something….anything, acknowledge the issue.

You’d be surprised at the number of people who tried to ignore what was happening, either by avoiding bringing up the subject or by avoiding you altogether.

As, someone who has had mental health issues in the past, I know how it feels when you desperately needed help, someone to talk to, someone to cuddle you, to hold your hand and tell you that it’s going to be ok.

But instead, because of the stigma around mental health many suffers are left feeling isolated and alone. As if they are unloved and that no one cares. Just having that one person to say that they’re worried about you, or asked me how they could help.

People can be quick to dismiss or may respond negatively when they find out a friend is suffering with their mental health.

Personally, I think that this is down to the stigma of Mental health in society. It is pure ignorance. For some reason Mental Health is a massive taboo subject and people feel uncomfortable talking about it or seeing it as an illness at all. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

I fell that to move on from the stigma and taboo of mental health, we need to educate ourselves and bring the issue of mental health into education. As I said above, 1 in 4 people suffer from mental health issues. It’s a lot more common than we think.

Things that you should NOT to say

mental health

It might be hard to talk to someone with mental health issues. Not know what the right thing is to say. But here are some things not to say…

“What have you got to be depressed about?”

“Stop worrying…”

“You’re just having a bad day…”

“Just eat!”

“You’re being selfish…”

“Cheer up!”

“Put a smile on your face, it might never happen”

None of these are helpful and simply belittles mental health and can contribute to other issues.

Do’s and Don’ts of helping a friend with mental illness

Do…Educate yourself on your friends condition by searching the internet or even going to a health professional and asking for guidance.

Do…Ask questions, your friend maybe able to talk openly to you about what they are experiencing.

Do…Be patient, your friend will have good and bad days.

Do…Be kind to yourself. Caring for someone with mental illness can be mentally exhausting.

Do…Take note of any triggers and changes in behaviour as the person might not be able to identify this themselves.

Don’t…Make the persons mental health issues your personal problem.

Don’t…Be scared to raise concerns

Don’t… take the bad days personally. Be supportive and let them know that you are there for them.

Mental Health is a personal journey…

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For myself, I feel that my past mental health issues have shaped me into the person I am today. I feel that they have changed the way I view things, changed my thinking and my life expectations.

I feel that my past mental health issues have made me stronger and more self aware.

I am not ashamed to admit my past issues, as I know that people will be going through exactly what I did. I just hope that speaking up helps to eliminate the stigma attached to mental health

I turned my mental health issues around to a positive experience and I do know that if I was ever to become mentally ill again, I have learnt coping techniques to be able to deal with my issues. I now also know that I am not alone, and I know where I need to go if I was to need help in the future.

Educate Yourself…

MIND https://www.mind.org.uk/

BEAT https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/

NHS A-Z – Conditions and treatments by subject – Mental health disorders

Helpline…

If you are dealing with mental health and are in the UK you can call the Samaritans for FREE on 116 123  or go to their website at https://www.samaritans.org/

samaritans

 

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(Note: these statistics have been taken from studies that have surveyed people living in private housing in England [2]. The figures do not include the number of people experiencing mental health problems in hospitals, prisons, sheltered housing or people who are homeless. Therefore these figures may underestimate the prevalence of mental health problems.)

Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger

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My Random Musings