When we ask friends or colleagues, family or loved ones: Is everything fine? It’s all too easy to take their first answer at face value. Many people will say they are okay, even if nothing could be further from the truth.
Perhaps they don’t want to be any trouble, or they have an issue they think is embarrassing. If you have asked them this question in the first place, however, it’s usually because you sense something is wrong.
Of course, we also ask ourselves the same question. And we often provide the same answer. Maybe we’re feeling down or a little anxious. None of us likes to admit that we have a mental health problem and may need help and support.
Is everything fine?
Take a moment to consider the question carefully. If it’s not, they say no. It’s important not to bottle up problems such as depression or feelings of anxiety. It’s not a sign that you are weak or stupid. It’s a first step in getting the support you need.
Take a look at this video from mentalhealth.org.uk, it highlights what we’re saying perfectly:
Getting Help With Your Mental Health
The trouble with many people is that they are likely to keep issues such as their mental health secret. Even close loved ones can be excluded from our true feelings. Recent initiatives to get us to talk more about our mental health have been effective in many countries, but there is still a long way to go.
Mental health is often seen as a stigma. The things is, though, it’s good to talk. When we unburden ourselves to close friends or family, it’s generally the first step to addressing the issues we face.
If you broke your leg, you wouldn’t hide it away, would you? You would get to the hospital and have it treated. Then why do we so often try to ignore or conceal mental health and wellbeing issues? While we’re getting better at talking and awareness is increasing in this area, the truth is it can still be challenging for some people to open up.
Talking, however, can be very therapeutic. Take this example from Time to Change of someone who spent more than ten years struggling with anxiety before they are finally opening up:
“Ironically “coming out” and being honest about my anxiety was the best thing I ever did. Never underestimate the power of truth: I felt as though a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I finally accepted how I was feeling and got some much-needed help.”
Supporting Someone with Mental Health Problems
Of course, when someone asks ‘is everything fine?’ it instantly becomes a two-way conversation. While we may be bad at telling someone that we have a problem, we’re not too good at listening either.
Maybe that’s because we expect the person to say they are okay and not actually burden us with ‘their problem.’ Listening skills are critical in encouraging someone with mental health challenges to talk more openly.
Supporting someone who has these kinds of challenges is an obligation all of us should be willing to undertake. It pays to dig a little deeper if we feel there is something wrong and let a loved one know that they have a friendly, non-judgemental person they can express their feelings to.
Yes, it’s not always easy, and it can be challenging to find the right person to open up to, but talking is also often the first step in moving forward and helping to solve a mental health issue.