There’s a good chance you’re unaware of the state of mental health amongst the people around you. Here’s why.
The effects of Mental health are better understood when people like me speak up about them. But I’m not alone. The stats show there’s likely to be one in five people that share similar mental health experiences to mine. We can change those stats, if we’re willing. All I ask is for a few minutes of your time to show you how. You might be surprised at how easy it is to positively impact mental health, with very little effort.
I want to share with you what I self-manage daily. There’s three areas of mental health that are a constant work in progress for me. And this trio is common for others who experience bouts of poor mental health.
To have ability.
We feel good when we’re doing something well. But when we’re feeling overwhelmed, with huge amounts of anxiety, it feels like we’ve lost the ability to do anything. Yet the truth is, there’s always something that can be done. And the best way to kickstart our ability is to start small. We with poor mental health are not incapable, we’re confused. You can help by providing direction, with clarity, and show us something simple we can achieve. Think of it as map we can’t read, until someone sticks a “you are here” sign on it. From there, we can adopt a healthier perception of “yes, I can do this”. Before you know it, our performance and output are back up to optimum levels.
Athletes have medals. Businesses receive performance awards. Successful students have degrees. Hospitality staff enjoy tips. The commonality in such examples is recognition of value. For those of us experiencing poor mental health, we often measure our value based purely on the opinions of others.
When we do good, and we’re praised for it, the belief in our value is unshakable. But should we not provide you with the value we intended, and you state that to us, our mental health will convert our inner value into guilt. We will often try desperately to make amends, do better, be better, be recognised, be good.
This is a cycle, and it’s a trap. Because of the direct association between ego and self-worth, the best way to break this cycle is to dig deeper and keep going. Resilience, a thicker skin, a less emotive response to criticism. Such traits are exponentially more difficult for a person of poor mental health to apply. But we do try.
The stigma toward people with poor mental health is astounding. Opinions range from “just think happy and you’ll be happy” all the way to “stop whinging and just get up and do somethingr”. Many people reckon that those of us with even a mild mental health issue need nothing more than a nice hot cup of shut the f*** up.
This is also why it’s so hard for us to communicate with you. We fear you’ll judge us for doing so. Our imagination often exaggerates this fear. The challenge to tell you of the ways in which we think during an episode of poor mental is akin to us standing trial for crimes against humanity.
Worse so when we cannot explain ourselves to you. Sometimes, we just feel like shit, and we have absolutely no idea why. Those are the days we desperately wish we didn’t have.
For me, the way out of fearing the judgement, is to speak or act, and see what happens. Whilst it’s true I have a HUGE fear of making mistakes and getting everything wrong, I try my hardest to focus on simply trying. Often the results of my efforts prove to me that I created something good after all. My mental health battery is then recharged, my will to press on re-invigorated, and the world around me is less feared.
So now that you’ve learned a little more about the circle of three, the last point I wanted to make is how to help those of us within it.
If you know the value of playing to another’s strengths, then by way of that you’re also aware of their weaknesses. Take five minutes to think about how you can guide them away from a weak point, and get them focussed upon a strong point. Are they good with numbers? Have them write less and calculate more. Are they arty or creative? Then why are they writing reports? Do they love connecting with people? Invite them along to functions or social occasions. Are they encouraged by recognition? Then tell them about the good they’re doing.
But by far the simplest way to improve mental health for anyone not having a good day, is to show you care. Have a chat, be interested, ask a question. The more you display that you care, even in the smallest of ways, the more likely the stigma will fade, the stats reduce, and there’ll be more of us enjoying better mental health more often.