Mental Health: How to start the conversation

I get told I talk a lot. I’m a prolific chatterer about everything and nothing. So, I decided to put this to good use and talk about something really important… mental health.

I became a Time to Change Champion to go out and talk to people about mental health and hopefully, help to break down the stigma. Sharing your own experiences to help others is really empowering and I’ve met some awesome people doing the same.

(Two awesome ladies I met through Time to Change celebrating my 30th with me ❤️)

I’ve been reading some epic blogs about it and think it’s really brave of these people to share. So thank you for doing that.

Did you know that just by writing a blog you could change someone’s life? Did you know that by asking how someone is can help too?

If you’re not much of a writer but want to help someone, here are some ways to start the conversation:

  1. Hi, how are you?’
  2. ‘How are you feeling?’
  3. ‘I know you’re not feeling so good right now but if you need to talk, I’m here’
  4. ‘Is everything ok? I’m here if you need me’
  5. ‘You’re not on your own, I’m here to listen’
  6. ‘Is there anything I can do to help?’

Just letting someone know that you’re there for them can really help.

When I get really low, really angry or really upset, my partner always says ‘is there anything I can do to help?’ Most of the time, there isn’t but just letting me know that he’s there, really helps. Because of my Alexithymia, sometimes j can’t even tell what’s happening with my moods. But it’s nice to know someone cares and accepts me.

So this 2018, if you haven’t already, start the mental health conversation. It only takes a ‘How are you?’ to make a difference ❤️

Daily Prompt: Conversation

My First Time to Change Talk

Yesterday, despite being a Time to Change Champion for the past year, I did my first Anti-Stigma talk to around 40 members of the local police force. And it went really well.

I was a little bit nervous about getting up and talking to people about Time to Change and my personal experiences with mental health at work. I’d created some slides with plenty of pictures and (what I thought to be) interesting content. I really wanted to do this talk to find out how the police were approaching mental health with their officers and what help was available.

The weather was awful on the motorway and made the 20-minute motorway journey less enjoyable. Found the venue and chucked some make up on in the car. As we arrived, the nerves started to creep in but not as badly as they used to. I was getting the anxiety sweats despite feeling quite calm so decided my winter cardi had to come off. Alas, I managed to get dressed wrong and was wearing my top back-to-front. The cardigan stayed on and the sweats remained.

The officers were so good and listened to what I had to say. There were questions afterwards which I answered and made sure I didn’t waffle! It was reassuring having one of the co-ordinators from Time to Change there with me for my first rodeo.

After completing the talk, some of the officers complimented me on what I’d spoken about which was really amazing. A few years ago, talking about my mental health, what happened with work places and highlighting the discrimination I faced, was something I would never have done. I’m hoping that sharing my story will help others, especially some of those guys in the police who are so brave and see all sorts of things.

With my sister being an officer, I worry about her and her mental health. I’ve tried to palm her off with leaflets and information but according to the police trainer yesterday, they can access counselling and groups internally. He also said they’d look after her. News to my ears for sure!

If you ever feel brave enough to share your mental health story, absolutely do. You never know who might hear it or see it and feel empowered.

Yesterday, figures were released that said 300,000 people in the UK had workplace issues because of their mental health. There needs to be a change in the way employers approach those with depression, anxiety, bipolar etc. Granted, some people don’t feel comfortable sharing. It all depends on how your boss is.

 

Why our children need our help

As I was driving to work today, I heard on the radio that Childline has ‘received its highest number of counselling sessions with young people having suicidal thoughts and feelings.

This is really sad for a number of reasons:

  1. Children are children. They’re supposed to enjoy being young and not worry about adult problems
  2. Social media. So many images, so much pressure, so much comparison
  3. The pressure. Society wants children to perform to the highest standard, get the best grades, go to the best universities but isn’t taking into account how unhappy they are
  4. Bullying. Has a profound affect on someone. I was bullied and I still hate remembering it now

Some of the stats from Childline/BBC News are particularly sad:

  1. 22,456 counselling sessions were given to children wanting to take their own lives
  2. 72% of those having counselling sessions were girls
  3. 13,746 of the sessions were due to children having anxieties

The stat about the amount of girls receiving counselling is shocking but not surprising. Girls are more likely to tell someone if they’re feeling down whereas boys tend to just get on with it. Does that mean that there are far more children/boys feeling so awful they can’t tell anyone? And if so, what can we do to help?

Charities like Time to Change are proactively heading into schools to talk to children about mental health. More awareness means more children can be helped. More awareness also means that we’ll see how many more children are suffering than first thought. There was also a discussion by government about teaching children earlier in life about how to cope with stress, anxiety and what to do if they’re being bullied. This might just help a few more children to cope with the stresses of being young in the 2000s.

If you’re a young ‘un or have any who are struggling, get them to give Childline a call. If you’re a bit older, the Samaritans can listen when you’re feeling rubbish.

What would have helped you when you were younger? What support do you wish was available?