Kind of said before that I wasn’t going to write a blog about mental health or rather my mental health issues. I am not sure I am the right person to do this although I do have my insights. I think there are people out there more able to put things across better than I can. That said I am going to say something because of what has been in the news this week in the UK.
So this week it has been discovered that our NHS (National Health Service) is not doing mental health care very well. Yes, tell me something I don’t know. I mean I have always been able to see a doctor and get the medication but that is the easy bit and my cases have always, in the big scheme of things, been easily treatable. However start talking about the talking therapies and doctors tend to clam up, no budget or long waiting lists being the usual excuses. I am very lucky that my employer will provide and has in the past counselling. I am lucky to have the support I have.
What I want to say in this blog is that we as a people, as society, can’t keep dumping things at the governments door, yes they are there to protect us and keep us well but there are so many pressures on the public purse, lets not get in tothe debate on wasteful government spending, we will be here all day. The point is still valid, we can’t just raise this with government and expect them to do all the work. We as a society have to play our part in mental health.
Let me put it a different way, if we saw someone in the street with a zimmer frame, a person in a wheelchair or someone with a white stick or guide dog, one would hope that humaity in us would spark up and compel us to help or at least see that they are OK as we pass by. We hear all the time about looking after our elderly neighbours during the cold months of the year, making sure they are OK and perhaps even getting shopping for them. I have been warmed to always see people help others out with people in wheelchairs, giving up seats for the elderly and helping blind people around. Even when seing someone is distress in the street offering them a tissue and asking, ‘Are you OK?’. In fact, those words are usually what go before people start helping, they say something similar, ‘Are you OK there?’, ‘Do you need some help?’ and so on.
Why is mental health any different? Before you all give me your answers let me say a few things. I know mental illness’s can be dam hard to spot and someone people may get defensive and maybe get annoyed that you asked this. I probably would have but I think if it came from a genuine place of concern and not of judgement than maybe people would open up and talk. I know this is not always easy but if we all, as a society, work together to make all the environments we work and exist in comfortable for people with mental illness then it can only be a good thing.
Are you OK?….The power of these three words or similar words can’t be underestimated. I will share this with you, many years ago, when I had my first breakdown I had return to work and wasn’t really listening to those around me and taking doctors advice. I went back to work too quickly and one day I was just not coping again, I was slipping or rather had slipped again. I was standing on the concourse at the station that I worked at and a manager I had worked with for a while came up to me and just asked, “Are you OK?”. I thought about it for a few seconds I could have just said no, I could have said I’m just tired. However in that moment I realised that she had seen something in me that I couldn’t see, I said ‘No’ and that was that, we talked I was sent home and I took more time off and truly got myself fixed. That simple question had saved me from a worse dip as my head was firmly in the sand.
I hope by now you have seen that I am no expert when it comes to mental health I have only got my own experiences to draw upon and I can only share those experiences. Maybe if you feel that you could ask this question and listen to what they may say then just consider the following.
Do it the right way,
- Privately so they don’t feel pressured by crowds.
- Do it for the right reason, make sure it is because you care about this person and you don’t just want a bit of gossip, if someone opens up to you and you don’t care and you go gossiping trust me you are doing more damage than you will ever know.
- If you are not someone they will open up to or feel you are not the right person, tell someone you think they will trust, a friend of a friend or a sympathetic line manager.
Be brave, ask the question, you could be saving someones life.