Sunday, 8 January 2017

Mental Health Q&A

It's no secret by now that if you've been reading my blog, or following me on Twitter for a while, you will know how passionate I am about mental health. As a 15 year old, I've been through my fair share of mental health problems, but I'm in no way ashamed of them. They have made me who I am, and without them, I wouldn't have learnt as many lessons as I have done.

I thought that today I'd do a Q&A, just to give you the opportunity to ask me anything you want about mental health, and all things relating to this sensitive subject. I hope you find it helpful, or informative in some way!

What advice would you give to someone who has a mental health condition, but is struggling to come to terms with it?

The first thing I just want to say is that accepting the fact that you're not okay is the first step. It's without a doubt the hardest one, but after that, you can work through how you're going to deal with whatever the mental health concern is that you have. If you know within yourself that there is something wrong, you will gradually need to try, and accept it as time goes on, because although it's a part of your life, there are ways to make it easier, and it doesn't define you in the slightest. You are still you. To help you with the whole acceptance process, you could try doing research about your condition. Mind, YoungMinds, Sane, and Samaritans are some of the leading organisations that you could have a look at if you're in need of support regarding your mental health. Alternatively, you could talk to professionals. Whether that be on the phone, in person, or in a different way, these people know what they're talking about, and their main priority is to help you, and to look after you. You can then talk about treatment, coping strategies, and the whole recovery process with someone who is trained in that area. If neither of those tips help, you can check out this website here, which may be of more use.

Do you have any rituals to improve your mental health?

I actually do have a couple, which are quite straight-forward, but they really do help when I'm having a particularly tough time in regards to my mental health. I did a collaborative blog post a couple of months ago, based on my self care tips, which you can go on over, and read here. I also linked a couple of resources that you could use at the bottom of the post, which may be useful as well! The main thing I'd say is do things that calm you down, and bring you contentment. I either read, write, blog, have a bath, or a pamper evening, disconnect myself, or sleep, and relax my mind, and I also talk to people about my problems. People often underestimate the power or talking, but it really can make all the difference.

Who do you rely on?

Over the past few months especially, I've learnt that you should try to not rely on anyone, apart from yourself. Rather than 'relying' on certain people, I'd say that I turn to some in tough times rather than others. A couple of the people that I'm closest to are (obviously) my family, particularly my Grandma, and I'm also quite close to my Uncle, but then there's also school friends that I lean on when I'm in need of support, and a couple of bloggers too! I guess it varies really. It's important to have a selection of people that you can trust, so depending on the situation, you know that there will always be someone, who will understand.

How do you help someone who is suffering with their mental health?

This is probably one of the most difficult questions to wrap your head around, but it takes time, and it takes both practise, and patience too. It does depend on the severity, and the sort of mental illness though. I'm only going to be talking from personal experience, but if it works for me, it may well work for you as well. The main thing that you can do is simply be there. Make sure that they know you're always there for them, whether that be physically, or through forms of social media. Try to encourage them to open up about their feelings once you have built that level of trust within your friendship, or relationship. Maybe you could tactfully express your concerns, and explain that you want to help, but they need to tell you how you can do so in order to make the situation easier for them. Tell them that you'll come to any appointments, or meetings with them, and you'll speak up on behalf of them if they feel they're unable to at the time. Support really is key, and if there's any other way you can help the person, try to ask them what they feel they need, and when possible, aim to do exactly that.

What do you think can be done to improve young people's understanding of mental health illnesses?

Mental health education seriously needs to become a part of the curriculum. As a student myself, I can honestly say that I've never had a proper lesson about mental health, and it really is ridiculous. So many teenagers are suffering, and this suffering will continue into adulthood, and it could potentially worsen throughout the rest of the individual's life if it doesn't get treated as soon as the problem arises. I also think that organisations, such as YoungMinds should go into schools, and do presentations in classes, and assemblies. YouTubers, and bloggers who are a part of the mental health niche could also go into schools, and do presentations, or talk about their personal experiences too. If all of these points get considered, I genuinely think that young people's understanding of mental illnesses will improve considerably.

What's the most common misconception about mental illnesses?

If you don't struggle with your mental health personally, it can be really difficult to understand things from someone else's point of view if they do. There are many misconceptions, but I still think that after all this time, the most common one is that those who struggle are attention-seeking. As soon as things get real, and others see the situation for themselves, they can often immediately jump to conclusions, and start firing their negative opinions, even when the person is already facing enough battles of their own everyday. Just because someone doesn't suffer with their mental health, it doesn't mean that someone who does is over the top, or exaggerating how they feel. Maybe you think it looks that way, but you shouldn't ever say that to someone, as it will only make matters worse. 9 times out of 10, it isn't done in an attention-seeking way, and it genuinely can't be helped at all. I know this from personal experience, and I definitely don't appreciate others passing comments, especially if they act like they're attempting to understand at other times. You never know what life is like in someone else's shoes, so please, please don't make assumptions based on what you see. Try to help, rather than hurt people further.

If this post has opened the eyes of even one person, then I'll be happy, and I'll feel as though I've done what I set out to do. Thank you to everyone that sent me in questions, and if you want to see more mental health posts, then please let me know!

How do you feel after reading this post? Has it helped you at all?
Lots of love always,
Jade xo


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