World Mental Health Day
I`ve been meaning to put fingers to keyboard for quite a while but every time I`ve started something much more important has come up. Maybe a cake needs eating or I see a car on the telly and I`m off in the other direction. I`ve not been brilliant for the last few days and today is World Mental Health Day so I thought I`d have another go.
The world is an odd place at the moment. Almost every aspect of day to day life has been turned upside down. Face masks are the norm, the bittersweet aroma of antibacterial gels and wipes permeates the air and finally us Brits have a time to excel at our national sport, queuing. Its bad enough for a “normal” person but anyone with any history of mental illness will probably, like myself be really struggling. Approximately 1 in 4 people will experience mental health problems at some point so if you`re one of the lucky three its always good to know what you can do to help. Obviously I`m no doctor but as a bipolar depressive suicide survivor with a history of addiction I can at least pass on what has worked for me and for others I have spoken to. I`ve been blessed with a wonderfully supportive wife, family, boss and workmates who have all generally done the right things at the right times, if you can offer the same support to a colleague or friend then you can make a huge difference.
What should you do if you have a friend/ colleague who may be struggling?
Speak to them, ask them if they`re ok, that may be all it takes to start a dialogue. A lot people suffering with MH issues will be afraid to ask. There`s still a huge stigma attached to MH and just to be asked if everything is ok by a friendly face can be a huge relief.
Listen and be patient. You may get scraps of information, nothing at all or a complete life story all in one go. If they seem hesitant don`t force it. Let them go at their own speed. Reassure them that you`re there to help. You may find they have been thinking of seeking professional help but have been afraid or even embarrassed to do so, maybe you could offer to accompany them, even as far as a waiting room would make a huge difference.
Always act as you normally would around them. Its fine to call and chat about your concerns but its still your old mate not some nutter to be treated with kid gloves. Changes in your behaviour are likely to make them back off and feel more isolated.
Above all look after yourself. You may hear some things you feel uncomfortable with. Talking to a friend about mental health problems can be just as distressing for you as it is for them. Make sure you can detach when necessary and take time to relax, switch off and do something you enjoy.
That’s about it for this thrilling instalment, I now command you all to go and find out which one of your 3 mates is the mental and offer them some help.
Jon Pollard (Nutter)