A quarter of Brits will experience some sort of mental health issue during their life. However, not everyone feels comfortable talking about it.
That’s understandable. While the stigma surrounding mental health is slowly disappearing, it’s normal to worry about how people will react.
However, communication can play a vital role in managing your mental health.
In the second part of our Push for Happiness campaign, we’re going to discuss how you can ask for help and why you’ll feel better for doing it. We might even find a way of communicating that you hadn’t thought of before!
All you have to do is choose the options you feel most comfortable with and take that all-important first step.
Are you ready? Let’s start the conversation.
1. See a doctor
In practical terms, a doctor is your fastest route to long-term treatment. They can provide a diagnosis, refer you for counselling or prescribe medication if you need it.
Many people find it comforting to discover that their mental health condition has a name and that it can be successfully treated.
Having a supportive medical professional in your corner can be a real weight off your shoulders.
How to get the most out of your appointment
Talking to a doctor about your mental health can be daunting, especially if you’re not sure how to approach the subject.
You might find it helpful to make some notes before your appointment, so you don’t forget anything.
If you’re really nervous, you can even have someone with you at the appointment.
Above all, it’s very important to be honest. Everything you tell the doctor will stay confidential, so you don’t have to worry about anyone else finding out.
The doctor is not going to judge you, they’ll simply listen and suggest ways you can deal with the problem.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your regular GP about this, ask to see someone else, or try one of our online consultations.
Your treatment, your decision
It’s important to remember that you will never be forced into any treatment you’re not comfortable with.
You will provide the doctor with something known as ‘informed consent’, which means you only say yes to something once you’re happy that you understand what it means.
The doctor will explain exactly what your treatment will involve, how long it will last and if there are any side effects.
If there’s anything you’re not sure of, you can ask as many questions as you need to.
2. Talk to a friend or family member
Keeping depression a secret can be a real burden and you’ll find that the people who love you will want to help.
A trusted friend or family member can often provide the emotional support you need on a day-to-day basis.
Once you explain things to them, they’ll know what you’re going through and can help you through it.
Breaking the barrier
If you’ve felt down for a while, you might wonder why your friends and family haven’t noticed. Once you talk to them, you might find that they’ve been waiting a while for you to ask for help!
It could be that they haven’t felt comfortable bringing it up before you mentioned it, or were worried that they would say the wrong thing.
Now that you’ve chosen them to confide in, they’ll feel flattered and want to do as much as they can to help you.
A problem shared...
Even having just one person who knows what you’re going through can help.
You might worry about becoming a burden on your friend, but remember that just because they know what you’re going through, that doesn’t mean your mental health has to be the only topic of conversation.
It can be helpful just to have someone you can relax around, without trying to hide how you’re feeling.
3. Find your own way of communicating
If you’re not sure how to talk about your problem, or you’re a naturally shy person, there are other ways to communicate how you’re feeling without having to say it out loud.
Some people prefer to write everything down. It can be easier to organise your thoughts if you can see them in front of you.
You can even express how you’re feeling by creating a piece of art, such as a painting or poem.
Discovering your own way of articulating your thoughts can provide a real release and a crucial first step to managing your mental health, so it’s worth investigating these different possibilities.
4. Go to a support group
One of the biggest obstacles stopping people from talking about their mental health is the fear that people won’t understand, or that they’ll be judgemental.
It’s more than often not the case, but sharing your experiences with people in a similar situation removes this risk.
At a support group, everyone can share their knowledge and help each other. From listening to others, you might discover a coping strategy that you hadn’t thought of before.
While some might find the idea of talking to a room full of strangers intimidating, others like the relative anonymity and feel safe knowing they can come and go as they please.
5. Get advice online
There are plenty of online resources that provide useful information about mental health.
Look for things like case studies, forums and information packs, as these could all help you learn more about your condition and discover how others have dealt with it.
Is social media bad for your mental health?
Like anything else, social media can be bad for you if it’s used in the wrong way. However, it’s important to consider the ways in which it can be useful, too.
There are lots of reasons to approach social media with caution if you’re having problems with your mental health.
The main factor is that people generally present a very filtered version of their lives online, so you only get to see the positive stuff.
This isn’t always helpful if you’re feeling low, but people can easily fall into a spiral of comparing themselves unfavourably with their online friends.
On the other hand, it can also be a useful communication tool and a launchpad for many mental health campaigns.
This is particularly for engaging the 16-24 age group, which studies have shown is most at risk from mental health issues. As a conversation starter, social media can be very helpful.
Still need convincing?
If you’re still unsure about speaking out, take a look at some of the many examples we’ve found of people who have seen a big improvement in their lives since they shared their problems with friends and family.
All my life I’ve struggled with mental health, I didn’t even know it until 2 years ago when I started to speak out, let’s all do this as one— CharisLeigh (@CharisLeighh) October 10, 2017
Mental health is so important. For years I tried to brush off my depression and anxiety until it became too much and I finally spoke out— KelseyMac (@toofacedKels) October 11, 2017
I finally found the strength to speak out about my mental health. Best thing that I did for myself.— Nikita-lynn (@lynnr1317) October 11, 2017
I'm not afraid to speak out about my mental health neither should you, speaking out helps a lot.— Christian Supernault (@IamSupernault) October 11, 2017