Taking the First Step
A significant and welcomed step has been made in reducing the stigma that surrounds mental health with Prince Harry’s recent brave disclosure about his struggles following the death of his mother.
But, despite improving mental health awareness it can still feel like an impossible step to actually ask for help. Indeed it can be difficult talking about our health full-stop, physical or otherwise, so when you are really struggling, taking that first step to actually ask for help can feel completely out of reach. Although when people do take that first step, it often comes with a huge sense of relief as they start to realise that they really can be helped. In fact, healing usually begins as soon as they start feeling heard.
Research from Mind, the mental health charity, shows that one in four people in the UK are experiencing a mental health problem right now. In Britain anxiety and depression is the most commonly diagnosed mental health problem, affecting nearly 8% of the population. It is also believed to account for a fifth of lost workdays.
And these are the people that we know about. It is also true to say that many people hide their struggles and so the numbers could be higher. I’m sure we can all relate to things like presenting a happy life on social media or not taking time off work; we like to give the impression that everything is fine. We worry about being judged or we may be concerned that people will worry about us; “what will people think?”. It could be that we don’t believe we are entitled to professional help; maybe we don’t believe ourselves worthy or think that there are people much worse off than us and we should just get on with things.
We all deserve the best health we can have; that’s both good physical health and good mental health. No problem is really too small or unimportant. If it’s getting in the way of how you would like to live your life, then why not ask for help and stop worrying about putting on a brave face?
Finding the words to ask for help can be really difficult. Mind’s “Find the Words” campaign helps with exactly this. Some of the things it suggests are:
- Focusing on how you feel rather than worrying about a diagnosis
- Being honest and open
- Speaking in a way that’s natural to you
- Explaining how you’ve been feeling
- Trying not to worry that your problem is too small or unimportant
Mind have published a PDF which is available here Find the Words
Its all good advice. Although often just picking up the phone and taking that first step is all you need to do. We need to remember that struggling with our mental health is more common than we realise and we all need help from time to time.
You can talk to your GP who may be able to access free counselling for you or you can seek a private counsellor for yourself.
If you decide to seek a counsellor for yourself then choose one that’s properly qualified and accredited. The Counselling Directory (www.counselling-directory.org.uk) undergo checks to make sure everyone they list is properly qualified and belongs to a professional body.