As someone who lives with depression, I feel I have a genuine insight into not only how to help but also how not to help someone with mental health issues.
One in four of us according to Government statistics will experience mental health issue’s over the course of our lifetime, and yet there is a major stigma attached to having been diagnosed as such.
Some of the comebacks I have heard in response to my “bad days” have been “man up”, “snap out of it”, “you’re just down in the dumps” and “what have you got to be depressed about?” I can categorically say that none of these are helpful to a person living with any form of mental health issue, in fact they can serve to exacerbate the symptoms and make the person internalise them more leaving them feeling isolated, alone and ashamed.
The charity Time to Change is trying to change this by breaking down the barriers when it comes to being open about mental health, the issues that can arise and the treatments that are available. On 5th February 2015 they launched Time to Talk day to encourage everyone to take 5 minutes out of their day to talk about mental health problems. www.time-to-change.org.uk/timetotalkday
Encouraging conversation and a healthy open dialogue is one of the main keys in tackling mental health problems and letting people see there is nothing to be ashamed about and they are not alone.
I personally share a lot of articles and blogs via social media because I feel that it is important to show that I am not ashamed of living with depression and that I am proactively trying to help myself and others by sharing tools that I have found useful.
Unfortunately I have received backlash from this and lost a few friends along the way. The way I see it though is that if that is their attitude I do not need their negativity in my life.
When it comes to causality, there are so many possible reasons for a person having mental health issues it would be impossible to share them all here, however this link is really useful in understanding what some of the factors are. www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/mental-health-causes-mental-illness
Likewise with signs and symptoms these are numerous and change with each individual, however from a personal point of view, when I am spiralling it feels like my head is full of monkeys fighting over one banana, this manifests itself in scattered behaviour, lack of concentration and attention to detail, paranoia and feelings of hopelessness. Again this list is not exhaustive however this link provides excellent information regarding recognising signs and symptoms. www.psychiatry.org/mental-health/more-topics
The main thing that you can do to help is to listen and not judge, believe me we do enough of that ourselves.
If you would like to speak to us regarding any mental health issues, please get in touch. Tel: 01723 588004.
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