Changing The Way We Talk About Mental Health
Mental health has been the ‘it’ topic for awhile now especially during the pandemic. We hear a lot of secondary stories from our friends and relatives about people who are experiencing various mental health issues, e.g: anxiety, depression or burnout due to the lockdown and we often wonder “what about the people closest to us?” Are they experiencing mental health issues but too afraid to talk about them? What about ourselves? Do we have signs and symptoms but are too worried about society constraints to even act on it?
Even with the increase in awareness, this topic is still considered a taboo. So how do we make it more comfortable for people to talk about their mental wellbeing or for others to check in with their friends? Here are some things you can try to do to make it a safe and inclusive place for your friends and family to talk about their well-being.
It Starts With You.
If you are suffering from mental illness and aren’t afraid to talk about it, you could start by sharing your story with your friends and family. This doesn’t even need to be a face to face thing. It can be done on social media like a poll or just a question “How are you feeling today?” You can even start the discussion by talking about experience and what kind of actions can be taken before going into the heavier topics. The people who are silently suffering may thank you for this now that they know that they are not alone. Your personal experience might just help save someone’s life.
Don’t Call People Psycho
Let’s be honest, we’ve had instances where we’ve said things like “My ex was a psycho” or “He’s so f*cking depressing to be around”. The change starts with us. Create a safe environment and people would be more inclined to be open with us. Often what makes people be less inclined to seek help is because they don’t want to be perceived negatively or don’t want other people to think less of them. Let’s avoid talking trash or using derogatory terms when it comes to mental health. Easier said than done for sure but hey, we gotta start somewhere. Maybe instead of saying “My ex was a psycho”, we can say “my ex was such a demon!”
Separate The Person From The Problem
It’s always easier to remember the person when we associate them with certain characteristics or attributes. Such as, the guy with the mole, the girl with purple eyeshadow. Sometimes without us realising, we tend to refer to people with mental health issues by their illness, e.g: Joe with the bad anxiety, or Pearl the bipolar. OR WORST, Jon the one on anti depressants. Nobody wants to be defined by their illness.There are many more wonderful attributes that a person has that is beyond their illness. So lets aim to be more sensitive towards that.
No Harm In Getting Treatments
Whenever we feel sick, it is normal for us to go to see a doctor to get treatment. Why isn’t it the same for mental illness? There is nothing wrong with seeking treatment to help you function and lead a normal life. If medication is the only way to help you manage your anxiety, you should take it without having to worry about stigma. If you happen to hear the people around you talk negatively towards therapy, educate them and get them to understand that any form of therapy is good for the soul.
Listening Is Powerful
Be a good listener. Thats the best thing you can do. Watch out for the signs and pay attention when someone is sharing their challenges. Sometimes, all that is required is a good listening ear or a trusty shoulder to cry on. Not everyone needs Superman to swoop in. If you’re unsure of the situation, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. It’s also equally important to make sure that you are in the right mindset to listen. It is totally unfair to take on a person’s venting when you are not in the right headspace, as this would not be productive for the both of you.
As the Michael Jackson song goes “You are not alone”. Everyone is going thru something. And life is about helping each other survive and being kind to everybody. So be a good friend/brother/sister/lover/workmate and be inclusive to the people around you who are battling mental health issues.
If you feel like you need to talk to somebody or are experiencing a tough time, help is always available.
Befrienders: 03-7627 2929 or email@example.com
Buddy Bear (Under 18) 1-800-18-2327
Talian Kasih: 15999 or +6019-2615999 (Whatsapp)
An aspiring lady of leisure. Current obsession: cupcakes, smoked salmon & the beach