Recently I noticed that hardly a day goes by without seeing a story about mental ill health. Whether it's one of my friends posting about #stopthestigma or their 'black dog' on social media, or someone ending their own life in the news, mental ill health seems to be a real issue nowadays.
I don't think it's more widespread - just that more people are talking about it - which is a good thing. Everyone deals with things differently, but apparently, some of the worst things you can say to someone who's experiencing mental ill health are:
"You'll get over it"
"Pull yourself together/snap out of it"
"Think of something positive" ... and others.
People don't choose to be depressed or anxious. They can't help it... and they are dealing with it the best way they can.
With that in mind, when a Mental Health First Aiders course became available, I jumped at the chance to attend - if only to have a better understanding of what some of my friends and family were experiencing.
The course has a basic principle. If somebody broke their arm, they would receive immediate help and first aid, and be whisked off to hospital. If someone is living with mental ill health, the symptoms are less easy to spot.
The course teaches you the signs and symptoms to look out for, how to support people, and to signpost a person to further help.
In any one year, one in four people experience at least one diagnosable mental health issue, so by acknowledging this, and being supportive to people, this can go a long way to stopping the stigma around mental health.
I personally feel that I have learned a lot from the course, being more aware that everyone isn't OK all of the time, and that sometimes all someone might need is someone to care.
In any one year, one in four people experience at least one diagnosable mental health issue