10th October 2023 is World Mental Health Day. In a world which appears to be more open talking about mental health issues, there are still huge challenges for many people. Whether it be seeking a referral for specialist advice or having someone to talk to, there are still so many gaps to fill.

So how can we help ourselves and each other?

When I think of my friends, many of them are dealing with difficult situations and are all approaching them in the best way they can. These situations can be due to anything, from financial concerns, long term ill health, marital problems, dealing with troubled teens, big kids flying the nest, parents getting ill, grief or stress at work, these challenges can cause stress, feelings of helplessness and can affect our mental wellbeing.

You may notice a change in someone’s behaviour, they may withdraw, they may be short with you, they may look tired or drawn. They may be over the top in their behaviour, they may avoid eye contact or any contact at all. Asking for help can be hard, this is where that initial conversation comes in. Asking someone “how are you” and then asking again can be all it takes for someone to start to open up.

You might be worrying about a family member, friend or a colleague but don’t know where to start. You might not feel confident enough or know what to dasay. Trust me, just by reaching out, you will be helping.  A phone call to check in with a friend can alleviate how dark they might be feeling. Knowing someone is there and it’s not all in your head can really help. A WhatsApp conversation, a card through the post, a conversation on the school run – it can all make a difference.

If you are genuinely worried about someone, please don’t be afraid to ask them how they are. It can be scary and easier to ignore but that friend will feel like a weight has been lifted. Realising that we are not there to fix the problem, but we can be there to support and listen. Knowing where to look for help, whether it be a website of a service, there are people there that can continue to support and help.

There are some great resources to signpost to and to learn from…