Where Do You Sit on The Mental Health Fence?
In today’s society mental health awareness is at the highest that I have seen to date, with today being World Mental Health Day. Recently I completed my Mental Health First Aid training through work and I’m now the dedicated officer in the clinic where I work.
Having had an anxiety disorder for over half of my life, I have had many discussions with others on the subject and over time I have found that people fall into 3 categories:
1. A Fellow Sufferer
2. The Empathiser
3. The Non-believer
A Fellow Sufferer will have experienced mental health problems at some point whether that’s one off panic attack, post natal depression, periods of anxiety or low mood, or at the other end of the scale, long term mental illness requiring therapy and usually medication.
No matter the time frame of their encounter, having experienced it first hand these people know too well that it is real.
The Empathiser, will not have experienced any mental health issues themselves, but can understand how it affects others and may have supported a loved one through times of mental unwellness. They believe it is real and that people need help to get through difficult times in their lives, whether this is through support or medical intervention.
The Non-believer usually believes that mental health issues are used as an excuse by the lazy or those who like to wallow in self pity. They have no tolerance for those experiencing mental health problems and refuse to believe it is an issue.
The sad thing is I have seen the Non-believer come full circle when they have been affected themselves.
For me the Empathisers can make the biggest impact in the world when it comes to helping others to get they help they need. Never underestimate your role in society as it could save a life. If you think someone is not ok – ask! Encourage people you know to be suffering to seek professional help. Lastly look after yourself as supporting others through times of mental unwellness can be mentally draining.
In Northern Ireland we have amazing Mental Health charities such as PIPS, Mind Wise, Action Mental Health and Aware, if you need advice or support.