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World Mental Health Day, starting the conversation

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by Eileen O’Callaghan, Senior Program Coordinator
Email: eileenoc@ipcboston.org or call 617 265 5300 x 13


Last Thursday the 10th of October was World Mental Health Day, an annual day encouraging us to think about our mental health. Research in Ireland by See Change found that one in two Irish people would rather suffer in silence, than discuss their mental illness.

While the majority of us use well-meaning, phrases like; "pull yourself together" or "you’ll be grand”. These can actually have the opposite result and prevent someone from opening up and sharing how they’re really feeling. Mental health stigma breeds silence and prevents people from talking and seeking the help they need. Sometimes we may be unsure about what to say, but you really don’t need to be an expert or have all the answers to start talking about mental health.

The most helpful thing you can do sometimes is to simply let someone know you're there for them and to listen to what they've to say.

Are you ready to start your conversation? Here is some advice from See Change:

· Talk, but listen too: Simply being there will mean a lot.
· Take your lead from the person: As a first step, ask them how best you can help.
· Avoid the clichés: Phrases like ‘Cheer up’, ‘I’m sure it’ll pass’ and ‘Pull yourself together’ definitely won’t help - Being open minded, non-judgmental and listening will.
· Take the pressure off yourself: You don't have to rush to find solutions or comparisons: We often fall into the trap of jumping straight in with something positive or wanting everything to be ‘okay’ but what the other person really needs is to be listened to.
· Keep in touch: There are lots of small ways of showing support - Send a text or email, or just ask someone ‘how they’re doing”.
· Don’t just talk about mental health: Just be yourself, chat about everyday things as well.
· Reach out: Remember the IPC is always here to listen, call Eileen on 617.265.5300 X 13. Or the Samaritans 24 hour hotline on 617.247.0220

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