The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on 10 October every year. This year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is psychological first aid and the support people can provide to those in distress.
All too often we are trained to respond to the physical needs of the people we know and love; we will stick a plaster on a grazed knee or serve a lemsip to someone with flu.
We will visit our friends in hospital or strike up a conversation about their ailments.
The same isn’t true when it comes to our mental health. Often we are scared to enquire into the mental and emotional health of those who share our world, for either fear or anxiety reasons we often avoid these conversations. Sometimes we just don’t even notice that someone is struggling or a little ‘out of sorts’, or it may feel a challenge to remark upon someone’s mood or enquire about their seemingly unhealthy weight loss. And for those of us unfortunate enough to have had a psychiatric admission, visitors are not as plenty as with when our physical health fails us.
We all experience difficulties at times in our life. There should be no shame in talking about that. We all understand that emotions can be challenging as well as joyful, life as hard as well as fun, so it should be ok to say that out loud without fear of being judged or isolated.
We are all capable of extending the hand of support, to a friend, a colleague, a family member. It might be the most important thing we ever do for that other person, so let’s try. Let’s open our hearts and our ears and reach out to someone. We don’t have to have all the answers to be helpful to someone in distress, sometimes a friendly face can be enough to help turn a bad day into a better one.
It might also, just save a life.