This, Thursday, October 10, is World Mental Health Day, an annual day encouraging us to think about our mental health and to start conversations with others about how we are feeling.
Here is some World Mental Health Day advice from the Irish Pastoral Center in Boston:
Back in 2013, 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 this World Mental Health Day:
- 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 Irish Pastoral Center is always here to listen. You can find us here. Or you can call the Samaritans 24-hour hotline on 1 (800) 273-TALK.
In 2013, Eileen O’Callaghan worked as the Senior Program Coordinator with the Irish Pastoral Center in Boston. You can find more information on them here.
Anyone struggling to cope with suicide can call the Samaritans on their free 24-hour helpline 116 123 in Ireland or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255 in the US.