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.
It’s Time to Talk Day, so I want to share the message that talking about mental health does not need to be something to be ashamed or embarrassed of. This means breaking down stigma and opening doors. Perhaps, the door to the doctor’s surgery. Or the door to the quiet room outside, where I believe it is okay to talk.
I’ve spent the past 15 years of my career – in recruitment and HR – raising awareness of disability issues in the workplace, encouraging individuals to disclose disabilities to employers, coaching partners through assessment and hiring decisions, encouraging candidates to choose a firm where they can show their true self at work and, above all else, selling the supportive culture of the law firms for which I have worked.
When I was 14 years old, I was suspended two weeks before the official start of the Christmas holidays. I’d been self-harming for months at my boarding school, while firmly believing that I’d been exceptionally secretive.
Fortunately, I was surrounded by a group of people who pulled away every lie and excuse until I had no choice left but to accept help. At the time, I hated them all. Despite the hours that these people had spent trying to understand and support me, I felt deeply betrayed.
Mental health was not a term known to me until around two years ago. I didn’t know anything about the importance of your own wellbeing, nor did I understand the devastating impact it would have on people I know. If I know anything about mental health issues it’s through my own research after a conversation with colleagues or friends. Whilst I love my heritage, the reason I knew nothing of about it is probably down to my culture and community.