If anything good has come from 2017, it’s the fact that mental health has been more widely talked about than ever. The stigma is being broken, and we are moving towards a society that is accepting of people who mental health problems.
However, we are far from perfect yet. Something that I’ve noticed lately, is how supportive people are when you are discussing your past struggles with mental health. And this is so fantastic and makes me really happy! We should be praising people who have recovered and spreading their stories for awareness and to let us know that things can, and do, get better. For someone in a delicate mental state this could really make every difference.
Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that all of this ‘support’ drops off as soon as you tell people you’re struggling right now. Maybe this comes from a lack of knowledge on how to deal with these things, or perhaps it’s pure ignorance, but either way, it absolutely cannot go on. I’ve seen so many people talk about how the people who claim they’re all about mental health awareness and helping people are the first to go silent once you let them know you’re struggling. At the first sign of your symptoms flaring up, they’re distant and busy. And I have definitely experienced this first hand myself.
I knew someone who always talked to me about my mental health struggles that I had a few years ago. A panic disorder and eating disorder that I had overcome. But suddenly in the last two years since I have been dealing with more serious mental health problems, every time I’ve tried to talk to them about it, they either change the subject, or just stop the conversation altogether. How can we build more tolerance, prevent suicides, and make people feel accepted if we ignore them at their most vulnerable? It simply cannot happen.
Ultimately I believe that education will be the key. Educating people on how to approach people with mental health problems, and about the mental health problems themselves. Calming someone with depression will be different than calming someone having a panic attack. And even at that, every single person will be calmed and comforted in a different way to someone with the same condition as them. The only way to really know how you can help the people close to you who are struggling, is to ask them. Ask them how they would like to be approached, what would help, what they would like you to do. Have this conversation a few times with them, especially when they are calm. Don’t open up this conversation for the first time during a panic attack.
With awareness we can bring about change. Please remember that these are just my own opinions and experiences. Have you ever experienced something similar? I’d love to hear your thoughts.