Mental Health Awareness
I have posted this before but will carry on blogging about this because it is something that I am very passionate about.
Unbelievably 16 people take their own lives in this country every single day. Can you begin to imagine the despair that someone must be in to do this? I know this because I have been there once bordering on that line after a series of god-awful life events. Fortunately, I am still here and I intend to stay here until I die naturally. I have been given the chance now to help others in this position and also to raise much-needed awareness.
The hole left by someone who takes their own life is the worst kind of pain. The people left behind are left blaming themselves quite often. The amount of young people taking their own life is heartbreaking and also the amount of men taking their own lives is increasing.
No More Stigma
We need to end the stigma attached to mental health illnesses. People should not be afraid to ask for help. Also, the amount of help needs to be increased as currently there is not enough out there. This is why I set up Harrogate Black Dog over 3 years ago to help people who are suffering to be able to communicate with each other and for them to know that they are not alone. It is a place where everyone is listened to with empathy, understanding and compassion.
Overstretched Ambulance And Police Services
The police and paramedics are increasingly being called out to situations where mental health is a big issue and they are not trained to deal with this. People need help and they need to feel they are able to ask for it and more importantly receive it and for as long as needed. Not just for weekly sessions over a six week period, after being on a waiting list first. This seriously needs addressing.
We Need To Be There
People who are at breaking point are able to hide their pain extremely well. A lot of people who lose someone to suicide are left shocked because they didn’t realise. Don’t just accept that someone will open up to you because they quite often won’t. Be the one who asks the questions. When you know someone has had an upsetting life event; talk to them and listen to them. Don’t just assume because they are not talking about it they are ok.
Samaritans SHUSH Campaign To Raise Mental Health Awareness
Samaritans want to encourage people to listen to the really important things their friends, family and colleagues need to tell them and to actually devote some time and attention to be better listeners.
When people feel listened to, it can save a life.
Become a better listener with our SHUSH listening tips.
S – Show you care. Life can be extremely busy and in this age of constant digital connectivity, multi-tasking has become the norm. Samaritans say that to really listen to somebody, you need to give them your full attention, maintain eye contact and be engaged.
Getting into this habit takes practice so don’t be too hard on yourself and keep using these handy tips:
- When starting the conversation resolve not to talk about yourself at all.
- Keep a listening diary – just for a week. Record how many times you listened really well, note what challenges and distracts you and what you think went well.
- Aim to learn at least one new thing about the person who is talking to you.
H – Have patience. Time is key when listening to someone. The person sharing shouldn’t feel rushed, or they won’t feel it’s a safe environment. If the other person has paused in their response, wait. They may not have finished speaking. Remember it might take them some time to formulate what they are saying, or they may find it difficult to articulate how they are feeling. Effective listening is about trusting the other person.
They trust you to listen and not to judge, you trust them to try to describe feelings, whether directly or indirectly, through language, body language or subtext. All conversations are open to interpretation and through non-judgemental listening, you are allowing the person to relax into the conversation and to use it as a place to reflect or work through difficult emotions.
U – Use open questions – An open-ended question means not jumping in with your own ideas about how the other person may be feeling.
These questions are objective and require a person to pause, think and reflect and then hopefully expand. Avoid asking questions or saying something that closes down the conversation. Open-ended questions encourage them to talk, the conversation is a safe space that you are holding for them and nothing they say is right or wrong. Try asking, how are you feeling today?
S – Say it back. Repeating something back to somebody is a really good way to reassure them that they have your undivided attention and you can check to see that you’re hearing what they want you to hear, not putting your own interpretation on the conversation.
H – Have courage. It can feel really intrusive and counter-intuitive to ask someone how they feel. You’ll soon see if someone is uncomfortable and doesn’t want to engage with you at that level.
You will be surprised at how willing people are to listen and how, sometimes, it is exactly what somebody needs to be able to share what is going on their mind.
SAMARITANS HELPLINE – 116 123
My Darker Shade Of Blue Campaign
For those of you who do not know I have been collecting poetry written by people suffering from mental health illnesses. I have also been collecting poems from the loved ones of people suffering. I am still collecting poetry so please send me your poems. This is not a writing competition so please do not worry if you think it is not good enough as it will be perfect. The more I get the better the book and the bigger the impact.
I have an online shop on Zazzle with items promoting the Darker Shade Of Blue campaign which I hope people will purchase and then be able to talk about with other people who ask about them.
The momentum needs to continue and this is where I need your help. Please like, comment and share this blog post on all of your social media sites. Let’s get this in motion and get as many people talking about it as possible.