Ending the Stigma: World Mental Health Day

So today is World Mental Health Day and I, like millions of people have been affected by mental health at some point in my life. I have to start by saying that I am not a qualified psychiatrist or doctor and this is very much an awareness post not medical advice. I’ll link useful resources at the bottom.

Mental health is a massive umbrella term for a person’s psychological and emotional wellbeing and affects how people think, process and react to things. Our experiences and genetics all affect our mental health and the best thing anyone can do it to own who they are be aware of how you’re being to yourself and others. I’ve dealt with mental health all my life and am eternally grateful for the help i’ve had from professional resources and friends.

Never be Ashamed

For years, mental health has been an unspoken shame with some claiming it isn’t real and others feeling it makes them abnormal or weak. It’s amazing that finally these views are changing and talking about mental health is becoming more socially acceptable. It’s up to you to own your mental health and choose who you disclose your mental health to and no-one should pressure you to talk about more than you feel comfortable with.

Dealing with mental health isn’t fun to be blunt. It takes work and time to accept you’re not okay, and that in itself is okay. Checking in with yourself and being self aware can go a long way in helping to stay on top of your mental health. You can personally try keeping things like Worry Diaries or ensuring you’re getting enough exercise or self care time. To help of course, there’s a whole host of support from dedicated NHS sites to your GP, to charities like Samaritans and Mind.

Talking Therapies

I’m a huge advocate of talking therapies and think they can be the most effective form of help. Ask your doctor for a mental health referral for a psychiatrist or counselling. They’ll asses you to help work out what’s best for you- you don’t need to know exactly what your problem is.

Lots of charities also offer talking therapies. From in-person CBT (Cognitive behavioral therapy) which looks at combating learned behaviors to weekly phone counselling to check in with where you’re at and support you- there are a lot of useful therapies for helping learn yo manage yourself better.

If Prescribed Meds help you, take them

There can be some weird stigma around those who take prescribed medication for their mental health. This is utter crap. If medication helps you feel more stable or prevents you dropping into the extremes of depression then do what is right for you and take it! It is not weak to need medication, if you had a migraine you’d take meds to help, mental health is the same.

Be responsible with your meds though, take them as prescribed and don’t skip them. Taking mood stabilisers or anti psychotics incorrectly can be really dangerous.  Same with if you feel they aren’t working as well as before- get in touch with your doctor or psychiatrist to help.

Check on your Friends

We’re often telling people to ‘reach out’ if they need help, but often people struggling feel too worthless or stressed to ask for help. They may also not really have processed that they aren’t okay. Whilst you can’t and shouldn’t force help on someone (unless you really feel they are a danger to themselves or others), you can ask how people are, and listen if they say they’re not good.

If a normally chatty friend has gone really quiet it might be worth reaching out. A lot of people with mental health issues struggle to ask for help. However, if someone doesn’t want to talk about it, you can’t make them- just be kind. Kindness for yourself and for those around you who may be struggling goes a long way!

Helpful Numbers from the NHS

As mentioned earlier, there are many places to seek help from, whether it’s for yourself or someone in need.

Samaritans –Call 116 123, Email jo@samaritans.org

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) (men only),Call 0800 58 58 58 , Visit the webchat page

Papyrus – (people under 35)Call 0800 068 41 41 – Monday to Friday 10am to 10pm, weekends 2pm to 10pm, bank holidays 2pm to 5pm, Text 07786 209697 ,Email pat@papyrus-uk.org

Childline – (for children and young people under 19),Call 0800 1111 – the number won’t show up on your phone bill

The Silver Line – for older people,Call 0800 4 70 80 90

Let’s keep working to create a society where mental health talk is acceptable, supported and no one is ever made to feel ashamed. If you want to donate to help people struggling, consider Mind.

Laters, Ruthy xo

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