You don’t have to struggle in silence. You can be 'un-silent'.
This statement has been shared by a woman who has bravely made many parts of her mental health journey public, as others have been too.
But why does opening up about your mental health have to be a brave choice?
Changing the meaning of “brave”
“Put up or shut up” is a phrase that you may have received as a response to opening up about your mental health many years ago. It’s the idea of either taking action on your issues or stop talking about them. This was once seen as the brave thing to do, but the meaning of brave is changing.
Accepting the reality of your situation is an important part of addressing the current state of your mental health and is brave in itself. What is braver still, is making the decision to open up about it with another.
Fortunately, we’re living in a new age where most people understand the importance of opening up about their mental health. In fact, according to the NHS, simply talking to a family member, friend, or a professional can help conditions like depression, anxiety, eating disorders, phobias, and addictions.
Individuals and organisations alike must continue to break the negative stigma surrounding mental health to ensure that we reach a point where it isn’t brave to open up about your mental health - it’s normal. Imagine a workplace where someone can comfortably talk about their struggles to a trusted few colleagues and their manager, and be met with kindness and support. Imagine their relief at not having to bottle it up and having the opportunity to truly be themselves in an environment where they spend so much of their time. This action, like all actions, can have a ripple effect on an organisation at large and give others the confidence to do the same, until it’s part of the culture.
Options for those who feel stuck
If you’re struggling with your mental health and you’re not sure where to start - think about the important people in your life. Of those who spring to mind, is there one person in particular that stands out? Someone who you think, or know, would listen and support you? As we’ve looked at, opening up is the brave and worthwhile choice - and this can begin by clicking the “call” button on your phone, sending one text, asking someone if they have five minutes to chat, or even inviting them out for a coffee or a walk.
Sometimes, people worry that asking a friend or family member for help can feel like they’re burdening them, and while this worry is understandable, it’s important to remember that it is a two-way street. If this is the case for you - let your friend or family member know that you are there to listen to them too. It’s also a big compliment for anyone to know they are trusted enough to be confided in, and chances are, they will be very pleased you opened up to them.
However, if you are truly uncomfortable talking to a friend, family member, or colleague, then booking in an appointment with your GP is a good first step, so you can explore options together. Or you may be interested in seeking help from a talking therapist, which can be a great way to routinely open up about how you are feeling - this is also something you can talk with your GP about if you’re not sure where to start.
Alternatively, there are plenty of free services available that offer a listening ear. Most notably, the Samaritans can be contacted for free 24/7 on 116 123.
The importance of resilience
Many people practise positive thinking. And this can make a difference in your outlook and improve your mood, especially if you practise daily. But it’s also important to recognise and be present with any pain or hurt that may be lurking underneath. Pretending that you are happy and have got it all together will not help you tackle your problems. It’s important, and can be quite liberating, to acknowledge what really hurts.
Once you accept the reality of where you are at, from that point you can start to rebuild. A simple, yet effective, way of starting this rebuild is to commit yourself to accomplishing one achievable thing each day.
There will be times where you find yourself in a challenging or highly-stressful situation, but being resilient means that you can navigate your way through hardships, providing you have a little knowledge of how.
One of the first points we make in our Resilience Training course is that resilience isn’t necessarily something a person is born with. Anyone can develop resilience with patience and commitment.
Free mental wellbeing resources
Here at iHASCO, we truly value the wellbeing of our staff and our clients - it’s at the heart of our company values and we pour this into our products. We offer a wide-range of Mental Health & Wellbeing Training courses that cover a variety of different topics.
Whilst developing these courses, we also created a number of Mental Health & Wellbeing Resources that can be downloaded from our website for free.
Included on this page are our Wellness Action Plan template, Mental Wellbeing Guide, and Stress-Busting Tools.