10 October is World Mental Health Day, and every year the World Health Organisation uses the opportunity to raise awareness of mental health issues across the world. These can be when crisis events occur and form part of a humanitarian response. Our own mental health issues or those of our friends and family can also affect our everyday lives.
This year the theme is psychological first aid, and the support people can provide to those in distress.
We are all too aware that it is often difficult for someone to seek help when they are experiencing a mental health crisis. It can also be difficult for family and friends to have the confidence and the knowledge to provide the right support.
In the UK, the campaign for World Mental Health Day is called Tea and Talk. The idea is very simple: get together with a group of friends, family or colleagues, put the kettle on and have a chat about mental health. It doesn’t have to be about personal experiences, it can be very general but the point is to get comfortable chatting about mental health.
Everyday, people often experience personal crises such as losing a loved one, going through a stressful time at work or experiencing an illness. There are also people who experience abuse and/or violence, which increases stress and the likelihood of developing mental health problems.
The principle of first aid is that we can step in to help and support someone who needs it, and to help them if they need professional help.
Many people affected by mental health issues find it really helpful to talk to someone they trust about their problems, such as their partner, relative or friend. It is often the case that friends and family are already concerned and welcome the opportunity to listen. Sometimes, it is easier to speak to your GP, tutor or faith leader. There are also many services and organisations that offer help and support to people with mental health problems.
Talking about mental health can help reduce stigma and discrimination (visit http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/ to look at ways we can help end mental health discrimination). Reach our to your friends. If you are feeling down, talk to somebody who you trust. We have all had experiences where talking about a problem has made you feel better afterwards. It may take time to begin to benefit from help but there are many effective treatments for mental health problems.
World Mental Health Day is an opportunity for everyone to take a moment to think about how mental health impacts our lives and what we all can do to help those in distress. A cup of tea and a chat is an ideal way to raise these issues in our everyday lives. Please let us know if you have found Tea and Talk to be helpful in the comments below, we’d love to know what you think.