Mental health includes our emotions and our psychological and social wellbeing. It can affect how we think, feel, behave, and determines how we handle stress, make decisions or approach relationships. We all have mental health and we can all experience challenges with our mental health at different times in our lives.
The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is Mental Health in an Unequal World. Because whilst absolutely anyone can suffer from a mental health problem, access to mental health support is not equally available and can be affected by where we live or who we are.
Top things you can do to help others
One thing we can all do to support those around us is to start to talk about mental health. The NHS has come up with some tips to help:
Express concern and say you can help
Letting someone know you’re worried is a good way to open up a conversation – it shows you care about the person, have time for them and that they do not have to avoid things with you.
Act as you usually do together
Do what you usually do – behaving differently can make someone feel more isolated. Do not be afraid to offer kind words and a space to talk, whether by phone, messaging or in person.
The first time someone mentions their worries is a big step. It’s good to recognise this and reassure them. Let them know you’re there to listen when they need to talk.
Offer your time to listen
Listening is an important skill. Ask open questions that start with “how”, “what”, “where” or “when”. This can help people open up.
You will not always know the full story. There may be reasons why they have found it difficult to ask for help. Just being there can be helpful for someone who may want to open up later.
If they do not want support
Gently explore their reasons for not wanting to get support. If they are unsure whether to get help, just talking and listening without judgement could help work out what’s getting in the way.
Do not force it
Do not force someone to talk to you or get help, and do not go to a doctor on their behalf. This may lead to them feeling uncomfortable, with less power and less able to speak for themselves.
Look after yourself
It can be upsetting to hear someone you care about in distress. Be kind to yourself and take some time to relax or do something you enjoy.
Offer practical help
Little acts of kindness – like offering to do the shopping or to go to professional appointments with them – can help. Find out what works for them.
Wellbeing support at Norwich Theatre
Personal journeys of loss and grief are being explored in Norwich Theatre’s new season material for autumn, rescheduled from April 2020 and now running until 19 October. Presented in association with Rosedale Funeral Home, Creative Matters – Loss and Grief is a series of digital events, open to all, which aim to stimulate discussion and make connections through creativity.
One of the key aims of the season for audiences and participants is to get people thinking and talking. Sam Patel, Head of Creative Engagement at Norwich Theatre, said: “The pandemic has brought into focus the effects of loss and grief so acutely, but bereavement is something we will all have to face in our lives. This Creative Matters season provides diverse and thought-provoking ways to consider how we do that, as well as providing an inclusive safe space to explore personal responses.”