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
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)