World Mental Health Day: be there for each other
By Mark Porter, MD, FIX8Group
Today marks World Mental Health Day and I am sure we all know someone who has battled with this at some point in their life.
The stigma associated with mental health issues is thankfully being tackled. There is now more help than ever before but anyone suffering with such issues, the hardest part is admitting to yourself and then reaching out for the help and support.
I remember when I was growing up, there wasn’t such a thing as mental health, you were told to ‘man up’, ‘stop feeling sorry for yourself’, ‘to grow a pair’ – it was masking over a very serious issue and there was a reluctance to admit there were issues in society which needed support.
Mental health can affect us in many different ways, whether it be depression, anxiety, misuse of alcohol and drugs, eating disorders, personality disorders, psychosis… It is important not to judge, but this in itself can be a difficult thing for us to do – immediately we will reach our own conclusion as to what is matter with someone, but that is such the wrong thing to do. A serious mental health issue may not be affecting that person directly, but may be a family member so wider support is needed. Listen, be considerate and just be there to support.
Personally, I have suffered from issues which have taken me to a very dark place where at one point I couldn’t see my way out of the deep pit I found myself in. For a period of time I remained in that state, where every day was a battle with the demons in my head. Eventually I found courage within myself to admit to myself that I needed help and could not manage to get through the pain myself. My friends were amazing with just listening without judgement. They gave their own viewpoint but without lecturing me. There was encouragement to seek professional help, which I did and with the support network around me, I was able to climb to the surface and fight. To this day, I still have my own demons, but I am able to handle these and keep things in perspective, but only with the support of my friends and family.
Mental health is not something which can be cured easily, but is something which in most cases can be managed very effectively. Whether to start with its talking to family, friends, using self-help guides and other support tools, at some stage it is so important to seek professional help.
I have been fortunate to be formally trained on mental health awareness and I would encourage everyone to either seek formal training or be more aware of the issues affecting many of us and how we can reach out and help. As one example from my training, for anyone wanting to know more about depression in a very simple and quick way, there was one particular tool I found useful from my training and it is highly recommended viewing. VIDEO: ‘I had a black dog, his name was depression’.
At FIX8Group, the welfare of all our employees, their families, our network of freelancers when on site is of paramount importance. We provide employee assistance programmes, manage to the best of our abilities the working hours and mental and physical strains on our teams, ensure there is sufficient rest between shifts and encourage everyone to look out for each other. I’m not for one minute trying to say we get everything perfect in our business and it should be used as a benchmark for what every company should do, but I would encourage every business to do something to offer that support network, understand and accept the issues around us and in effect embrace what we face today.
There is love and hope out there, there is the support, there is the care – admitting it to yourself is the hardest thing to do, but everyone should look out for their family, friends and colleagues and ensure they don’t suffer in silence – just be there for each other.