There are various mental heath awareness initiatives throughout the year to raise awareness & reduce the stigma of low mental health. Thursday 7th February 2019 was Time to Talk day in the UK.
Such initiatives are a great way to get more people thinking about their own mental health as well as the health of others, to get people to think about opening up and to get people to be open to listen.
Sadly though, I think too many people are still too scared of other people’s mental health to provide support.
From my own experience if there was one thing I could encourage others to do, it would be to be there for those around you. All too often I think people get scared to offer a listening ear. I don’t know what the perception is that leads to fear in doing this. Is it that people get scared that the person will over depend on them? Is it that they feel they don’t have anything to offer?
We often tell people they need to open up if they start to feel like they need support, but I wonder if enough people are ready and able to offer support to others. I think that the stigma of mental health issues has provided a barrier not only for people to be able to open up, but also for others to be in a place to be able to listen and support.
When I attended a mental health first aid course through a previous employment I was so surprised with the negative attitudes in the room from other delegates about people struggling with their mental health. I found the attitudes of others very disturbing and they weren’t challenged by the tutor. It left me feeling that it is no wonder it can be hard for people to feel like they can open up when such negative views exist around us.
My biggest advice is to just always be friendly and kind. I don’t think anyone who is in a difficult place in their mind wants to become dependant on others for support. They just want to know that someone is there. A simple message or call to check in and see how things are going is so underrated.
And if you offer support, where possible don’t then retract and do or say nothing when someone reaches out. By all means put in place boundaries that keep you from becoming too emotionally involved. But don’t just ignore it if someone reaches out to you. You never know how much it took for that person to reach out and they may not have the resilience to try again soon after.
Listen to the person and listen to what they are asking for. They may just want someone they can open up to who they feel they can trust and who they feel will provide them with some empathy and warmth. Immediately suggesting or referring people to professional services can feel like a rejection. It can be extremely difficult and daunting to go and speak to a complete stranger on your own. If you are placed to do so, why not suggest helping the person seek professional advice and support rather than leave them to go it alone.
I cannot stress the importance of just being there for others around us. You never know when you might need the support in return. Be kind. Be friendly. Be there.
Fitness for a Healthy Mind, Body & Soul
We often hear how good exercise is for us when tough times present themselves, and I wholeheartedly agree. I know exercise has helped keep me on an even keel many times throughout my life.
I have always been active though and so I recognise how easy it is for me to exercise if I start to struggle emotionally as it is already part of my daily routine. I wonder how it must be for someone who is not already regularly active to try and exercise when mental health struggles come along. The act of getting involved in something active can be hugely daunting in its own right, let alone on top of existing struggles.
It is why I am keen to support others who feel their mental health is not in the best place. Later this year I will be launching a fitness group aimed to help people with low mental health and/or low self-esteem. Once details have been finalised they will be released on the website.
In the mean time, Personal Training can be a great way to help get into activity and get those feel-good endorphins working for you. I am experienced and qualified in Youth & Community Work as well as in Fitness and I aim to provide a positive space in Personal Training sessions for all of my clients. I believe the Mind, Body and Soul are connected and hence I think fitness and activity are a great way to not only strengthen the body but also to strengthen the mind and provide the soul with a positive and enriching outlet.
For more information or to enquire about Personal Training please get in touch.