Did you know that 1 in 4 of us struggle with our mental health? But what do we mean when we talk about mental health? I’d like you to think back to a situation where you or you know someone that had a change in their life as a result of a physical illness. Broken leg, for example. What was the impact on their lifestyle, their social structure, their work load, and as a result the impact on their motivation, their focus, friendships groups and overall well-being? This change is natural but how do we manage this change, and this is the mental health bit!
Most of the time learning such resilience comes from our upbringing, our values and having supportive partners, teachers, friends and colleagues in our lives. But what if this is not the case and also, sometimes we don’t always get it right despite having this support.
I’d like to share a story of a colleague who told me when he was at school he suffered with yellow jaundice the impact on his overall health and well-being was quite devastating. Being an active outdoor and social person, these elements were reduced because of his time recovering at home. From being an active socialite and sports person to suffering with anxiety and agoraphobia, then depression to thoughts of suicide. Each emotional challenge escalating through lack of support or lack of knowledge. He is now fully recovered after 8 years but his recovery could have been a lot faster had he been given the right support and space to talk through some of his mental health challenges.
The resilience that some of us have will help to pull us through but sometimes we just need someone to say those 3 little words, “HOW ARE YOU?” This can be the potential first positive step towards recovery.
Of course, there is more to it than this, but if you feel you have the mindset and capacity to be curious about how to help someone else at whatever stage they are at with a mental illness then here’s how. In 2019 I will be running workshops focusing on becoming a Mental Health Champion and a 2-day Mental Health First Aid Certificate, in Swindon, Bristol and Melksham. Please get in touch if you are interested. Paula Power, Mental Health Facilitator and Trainer, MHFA (England)