If your friend is experiencing mental health problems, there are a lot of things - big and small - that you can do to help. These stories are about the good and bad ways that friends have responded to someone with a mental health problem. 

People didn't think a man in his thirties could have an eating disorder

People like opposites. Right or wrong. Pass or fail. Leave or remain.

It’s how I often think about my mental health. I am well or ill. Recovered or relapsed. Coping or not coping.

Three years into my recovery from anorexia, I’m learning to admit that my mental health is not black or white. I’m learning how to talk about not being 100%.

As a man who loves both musical theatre and rugby, I am not anyone’s model of traditional masculinity. Fun for me is found in the shades of grey. In disagreement and debate. In diversity.

People with mental illness are real people too

There is a secret; one that nobody is prepared to talk about; one so shocking it may bring down society as we know it. Am I talking about a scandal, or some sort of political corruption? Am I talking about some secret society that quietly rules over us, or perhaps I am talking about the fact we are all lizard people. While I would infinitely prefer to talk about any one of these things, I am in fact talking about the truth that, literally, nobody is talking about. I am talking about the fact that people with mental illness walk among us.

At school, I heard people talk about mental illness in a negative way

When I think back to my first year of secondary school, I didn’t really know much about mental health. I could maybe have named a couple of mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, but there were so many things I didn’t understand. I definitely didn’t realise that anyone, including myself, could develop a mental health problem.

You don’t need a PhD in psychology to talk about mental health

What’s more awkward? Making a colleague a cuppa and asking how they’re doing, or running through the DSM-V diagnostic criteria for depression to ascertain whether they require a professional referral? Any idea what I’m talking about?

The point is, you don’t need to know all this stuff to have a conversation about mental health. And even if you did, I doubt anyone would thank you for using it as an ice breaker.

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