I don't normally post on a Saturday but today is World Mental Health Day and I wanted to take the opportunity to write about something I care deeply about: making sure people can get the help they need when their mental health may be suffering.
When we are in a pit of despair, getting help is not easy. The simple act of reaching to someone and saying "hey I’m not okay" takes courage and strength, and it’s often almost impossible. I have had people reach out to me and I know how scary that must have been, but I'm thrilled that they feel like they can.
We all know there is a stigma attached to mental health. People don't like to talk about it, particularly not their own struggles. But when we think everyone else is doing okay we feel like we need to as well. I've realised that the reason people feel they can talk to me is because I've been honest about my own struggles, and that vulnerability is a powerful thing.
However whilst I've found that my friends have always been incredible whenever I've found the strength to turn to them, sometimes we feel like we need to talk to a stranger. Someone who doesn't know us can still be an incredible support, but maybe feels safer than opening up to someone more familiar. For this reason I've compiled a few resources for you to use if you need the help.
Crisis Text Line (US) - These guys are amazing. I reached out to them at a time when I was really low and the lovely volunteer talked me through it until I felt better. The best thing about it is it's done entirely by text, which I find less scary than ringing a phone number. Plus I was at work when I started to get really upset, so being able to text in that moment was incredibly helpful.
To get in touch: text 'start' to 741-741
Samaritans (UK) - I'm incredibly proud to say that my twin brother volunteers for the Samaritans, because these guys are amazing. Again I have used them myself, and found the woman on the end of the phone to be so helpful and supportive. Telling a stranger all the thoughts that had been eating me up went a long way towards making me feel better, and I admire all the people who give their time to help others in this way.
To get in touch: call 116-123
University Counsellors - If you're a student there's usually a university counsellor you can see if you feel like you need to. I started going to mine in my freshman year and I don't know how I would have coped if I hadn't. Not only did we deal with the issues happening at the time, my counsellor also helped me see patterns in my thinking that were making my problems worse. I still use the techniques she taught me, and I also still go to counselling fairly regularly. I appreciate most counsellors offer a limited number of sessions (I'm lucky that mine don't), but if the resource is there and you need it, use it.
You can usually find out about counselling from your health centre, or try googling it. When I typed in 'counselling at uni' the first five results were webpages for Oxford, Cambridge, Sheffield, Nottingham and Cardiff. Whatever your university there is probably a page to help!
I hope that when you need support, you look for it. Your friends can be an incredible resource if you just reach out and ask. Simply sending a message on Facebook that says 'hey can we talk' can start the ball rolling towards getting the love and support you need. And if you're a friend who thinks you can see someone struggling, check in with them. Asking "how are you?" and being clear that the response doesn't have to be "great thanks" is a very powerful step towards supporting them.
I want to work towards a world in which everyone feels supported. Join me won't you?