We all do it. Say we’re ok when we’re not really.
9 times out of 10, many of us can slip into the default. Perhaps we don’t feel comfortable talking about how we’re feeling. Sometimes it’s not the time or the place, or perhaps we get the sense that the person hasn’t the time to hear the reality.
One of the most powerful things I learned recently about mental health, is the power of asking the right questions, of ourselves and those around us.
When we start to really understand that our mental health is a moving picture, we can recognise where we’re at and what external factors may be influencing how we’re feeling.
A habit that I’ve only recently adopted with a very good friend is to ask how we’re doing out of 10. We’ve both come to understand how we’d be feeling at a say 4, and what measures we need to put in place to improve our mental health.
For anyone that’s not sure of the differences between low mood and mental illness, or you’re looking to understand your own mental well-being better, this chart can be a useful reference point. I find these types of charts help to visualise what the sliding scale looks like.
Having a mental health illness means that it can be harder to ask for help, so we all need to get better at looking out for signs of suffering and asking the right questions.
If you’re concerned about someone’s mental health, the medical professional advice is to ask the person if they are having suicidal thoughts.
When I heard this on a recent mental health first aid course, my initial reaction was; but what if they’re not having suicidal thoughts, won’t I make that person feel uncomfortable? But, as the tutor rightly pointed out, isn’t it a risk worth taking. The chance that there might be a few minutes of an uncomfortable conversation, versus the opportunity to save that person from taking their own life.
On World Mental Health Day, whether you’re a 9 out of 10, a 5 out of 10, or not even there right now. It’s so important to remember we all have the power to change that picture.
For some, it will be harder than others, but let’s not just default to ‘I’m ok’ when we’re not.
Let’s keep talking!