You can hardly go through a week these days without some kind of reference to mental health in the media. It’s big news – and with good reason.
- 65% people in the UK say they have experienced a mental health problem at some point in their life
- Depression is currently the second most burdensome global disorder (and is set to become number one in a few years’ time)
- 1 in 3 sick notes issued by GPs are for mental health-related issues
- People suffering from depression experience three times as many chronic physical conditions as the general population
- A quarter of girls show signs of depression at the age of 14
The list goes on and on. Health professionals use the term epidemic to describe the growth of mental health problems.
So how should we respond?
Talking about it is probably the first and best step. Prince Harry did exactly that last year. He had struggled ever since his mother’s traumatic death twenty years previously. “My way of dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand, refusing to ever think about my mum, because why would that help?” he said.
With William and Catherine he set up the Heads Together charity to try to change the conversation about mental health. What happened in fact was that many people felt they had been given permission to actually talk about their problems.
Footballer Rio Ferdinand also spoke movingly of his emotional problems following his wife’s death. He had bottled his feelings up but found huge relief when he finally began to open up to other people.
Here are some other suggestions
- Don’t deny the issue – in yourself or others
- Listen to people’s thoughts and feelings rather than telling them what to do or giving advice
- See beyond the immediate words and behaviour – what is really going on?
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Too simple? Not really. If we all acted in these simple ways, perhaps the mental health epidemics might abate a little.
Find out more about dealing with life issues…