Talking about mental health is not always easy. In fact, I think it’s rarely easy. It’s the kind of conversation we avoid out of embarrassment or fear – and I think that happens whether you’re trying to talk about your own mental health or whether you’re trying to broach the subject of your concern about someone else’s! It can feel like it’s never the right time: it would be better if we were alone; it would be better if there were other people around; it would be better if we were somewhere different, if we had more time, if someone could hand me a script of what I should say or how to explain this.
In reality, it is always the right time to talk about mental health. We need to have those conversations now. No matter how inconvenient now might seem. It’s time we started touching base more often and more authentically. It’s time we stopped saying “I’m fine” when we’re not. It’s time we stopped just hearing “I’m fine” and always taking it as a given to be true.
Let’s start taking the time to ask “How are you really?” and taking the time to answer honestly. It doesn’t have to be the whole story. It can be a simple “Not great, actually, I’m having a bit of a tough time.” and a “I’m really sorry to hear that. If you want to talk more, let me know and maybe we could go for coffee?”. That short exchange could offer someone a window of opportunity to get the support they need. It could offer you the opportunity to reach out and take a proffered hand.
So seriously, let’s talk now.
It’s easy to be too busy
It’s not the right time.
To worry that you’ll make it worse.
So you accept their fumbled
It’s hard to find the moment
For hearing truth
But really we’re just finding excuses
To keep ourselves
To all the pain that gathers
When people can’t speak
And have to keep it bottled up
For fear of hurting
But what happens when you leave it?
When you let the silence
What if their pain is your pain too
But not asking means
So let’s all breathe together
Hold hands and take
Is The Time.J Eden
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health then please don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to someone. You are not alone and help is available. By opening up and starting the conversation we can move forward together and look to a mentally healthy future. Below are links to a range of fantastic organisations that can provide information, advice and services.
The Samaritans: http://www.samaritans.org
Young Minds: http://www.youngminds.org.uk
Papyrus (prevention of young suicide): https://www.papyrus-uk.org
Self Harm UK: https://www.selfharm.co.uk
Time to Change: http://www.time-to-change.org.uk
Rethink Mental Illness: http://www.rethink.org
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: https://www.afsp.org
Please do not struggle alone.