So how exactly do you talk about mental health? It’s a tough one – an elephant in the room, if you’ll pardon the pun. But it’s a conversation we need to have.
If you ask me how I’m doing, the chances are you’ll get one of three answers:
- The “meh”: this means that I’m not feeling great but don’t really want to talk about it. It’ll pass and I’m probably in a mood for no reason.
- The “great thanks, how are you?”: this means that I’m in a pretty good mood – the day is going well, I’ve done something interesting and I’ve had the right amount of caffeine so that I can function like a person.
- The “I’m not feeling so good”: if you hear this, you know I’m having a bad day and could do with a break, a cup of coffee and a chat.
So that’s great – I’m easy to read. There’s a 3 step guide to evaluating how I’m feeling and how to talk to me. This might not be the case for everyone. In fact, it almost definitely isn’t.
It’s a sad fact that more people would rather avoid talking about mental health than sit down and have an honest and frank discussion about how they’re feeling. But they’ll happily talk about their physical health and fitness – so much so that I’m sick of hearing about the gym. There’s something about this that just doesn’t feel right to me – our mental health and wellbeing is just as important, if not more so, as our physical health.
So if you’re feeling down, talk about it. Air your feelings with a friend. Sit down and have a chat over a coffee. But don’t bottle it up.
And what if you see someone else who doesn’t seem to be doing well? Sit down and have a chat. Ask them how they’re doing, offer a friendly conversation. Buy them a cake if they’re the kind of person that isn’t obsessed with the gym.
Sometimes a little attention is all it takes to get someone on the road to feeling better. Sometimes it takes more than that – and that’s okay too. The chances are you’re not going to be able to take someone from feeling like 0% to 100% with some coffee and a cake or a hug. But maybe you’ll take them from 0 to 20%, and that’s always an improvement. And sometimes that’s all you need – for things to get just a little bit better.