Tomorrow is the 1st of February and #TimeToTalk Day, a day set up by charity Time To Change in order to get people talking more about mental health.
Yes, mental health is spoken about a lot more than it was ten years ago, however it is those suffering who find it the hardest to reach out.
Shame, isolation, guilt, embarrassment and fear are just some of the emotions felt by those suffering from mental health issues when it comes to talking about it with anyone else.
Speaking from experience, I was incredibly embarrassed and ashamed of my diagnosis.
I felt alone and like no-one understood.
That is where awareness days like #TimeToTalk can change attitudes and open people’s eyes.
All it can take sometimes is “are you ok?” or “I am here for you” to make someone feel like they aren’t completely alone.
The concept of #TimeToTalk this year is that we can often think it is inappropriate or uncomfortable to talk about mental health in public, however we should strike up the conversation wherever we are! It isn’t something to whisper about or hide from. 1 in 4 of us will suffer with a mental health problem at some point in our lives, so removing the stigma may help those in need get help faster.
Striking up a conversation can seem daunting, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be:
Don’t ever feel pressurised into telling someone about your mental health if you don’t want to. You don’t owe anyone and you shouldn’t feel guilty about keeping it from certain people.
For me I told just my mum and she was the only one who knew for years until I was sure I wanted my friends to know. Be selective and picky with who you trust. Look into seeing a therapist if you don’t want to tell anyone. Last year I finally plucked up the courage to seek a therapist and it has changed my life.
TIME & PLACE
If you are wanting to talk about your own mental health, find a time and place which is comfortable for you. If being in public is too daunting why not meet at your house to strike up conversation.
If it is a friend or family member you want to check on, make sure it isn’t somewhere they would feel awkward like in a busy social situation. Try and see it from their point of view to think about how you would react.
TEXT vs FACE TO FACE
Thanks to everyone now owning a mobile, it can be a blessing for those who find it harder to talk face to face. Talking about mental health doesn’t have to include grand gestures. If you feel more comfortable sending a text to your friend or leaving a note for your mum then do what you feel works for you.
When you have decided who you want to tell, when/where you want to do it and how you want to tell them you must trust yourself to be as open or closed as you feel comfortable with.
Being honest with others can help to build trust with others. You never know what issues people are really living with behind what they convey everyday, you may find them confiding in you too.