I imagine that you will agree that there is very often a negative stigma that is associated around mental health and illness. Some of these stigmas ‘label’ someone with some form of permanency. In actual fact, MANY mental health illnesses or episodes are experienced only once, many are fully recoverable and also many are either treatable or a comfortable standard of living can be experienced with support and/or treatment.
So … do we all have ‘mental health’? You bet we do!!
Every one of our day-to-day experiences affects our health and wellbeing in some form of positive or challenging way. Think back to when you woke up this morning – how did you feel on a scale of 1-10? What score would you give your highest point last week … and your lowest? I would imagine all of the scores varied somewhat.
What we have identified is that for each of us, our mental health lies on an ever-fluctuating continuum:
For example, someone living with extremely painful arthritis or bereaving a loved one may be experiencing minimum mental wellbeing/fitness, whilst not having any form of diagnosed mental health illness.
In contrast, someone living with diagnosed bipolar disorder may be experiencing a (long) period of maximum wellbeing/fitness.
No person has to be experiencing or living with any formal mental health condition
or illness in order to be experiencing mental ill-health
A person’s mental health can fluctuate – throughout and from day-to-day
depending on a huge range of circumstances
So, how can we recognise signs (things we can see) and symptoms (things people may feel) of a person experiencing mental ill health (either temporarily or over a longer period of time)?
Recognising such signs and symptoms does come with a warning however! These or other signs or symptoms MAY simply be someone having a bad day or week, or may ‘just’ be part of growing up?!
But, when we do recognise signs and symptoms of someone who is finding day-to-day life a little more challenging and what can we do to help?
We can CARE!
We can reduce stigma, we can talk openly and reassure people, let them know that their feelings are normal.
By taking that time to repeat the question and ask if they are really OK, you are showing them that it is OK to not be OK and that you are available, willing and able to listen.
When you are really ‘stuck’ for how you can provide further support, don’t be afraid to signpost them to:
- Citizens Advice Helpline 0844 855 2322
- Samaritans 116 123
- Springfield Mind 01789 298615
- Mental Health Matters Helpline 0800 616171
- Warwick & Leamington Crisis Team 01926 450660
- Stratford Crisis Team 01789 415440
- Wychavon Crisis Team 01905 681070
Written by Becki Coombe, The Learn 2 Group