Today is Time to Talk Day where we’re encouraged to talk about how we are feeling. Growing up as a teenager in the 90s I think that mental health issues were viewed as a bit of a taboo subject. We were maybe lucky enough to live in a time before social media where people can share things that are harmful. People weren’t educated to understand mental health and the issues surrounding it. It was one of those things where there was some awareness, but people were just encouraged to get on with things. Thankfully things have improved but much more needs to be done. There is certainly more awareness of mental health issues with there being several organisations set up to try and support people who are suffering from the likes of depression and anxiety.
In the workplace you’ll now see signs for organisations who can help which is great as many individuals don’t know who to turn to for support. People can talk to friends and family but not everyone has that option. This can be due to being isolated from society and not having anyone they feel close enough to in terms of trusting them with what they are struggling with. There is still the stigma that if someone has mental health issues that they should snap out of it or just get on with things. A large number of individuals do just that, but it may cause long term harm. It is important to seek help whether it be talking to someone you know or getting in contact with the likes of Mind, Body, Sole UK, Back Onside, SAMH or Calm.
The rise in suicide rates is an alarming statistic with it affecting people from an even younger age than before. This has increased as a result of the Covid pandemic and is deeply concerning. Children are reporting issues that they are suffering from which can be partly down to social media which is an additional way that bullies can target people. At times social media can portray a false reality where people are living great lives constantly but you’re only seeing a snapshot of what is going on. Individuals are under pressure to look a certain way or have the right clothes and phone. We should do more to encourage people to be individuals and not worry they will get bullied for how they look or what they are wearing.
The media in general could do much more to help as they are quick to dramatize stories to sell newspapers. One of the key messages is that no one is immune from suffering from mental health issues. In football there have been high profile cases such as Robert Enke in 2009 and Gary Speed in 2011.
Everyone can help by looking out for signs of mental health deteriorating such as people suffering from loss of confidence, loss of appetite and struggling to sleep. It might be that just checking in on your friends can help by sending a message or giving them a call. It can be difficult for people to talk about how they are feeling as they don’t want to be a burden. People cope with things in different ways so they might not open up which is where you need to look for signs and offer them support. Waiting times can be an issue in terms of seeing someone as resources are stretched and not everyone can afford to go private to get counselling or other support which may help.
Sport can be a great tool in terms of helping people feel they belong to something. At the football for example you have a community feel and is an outlet for letting off some steam at times. You’ll hear it in the terraces across the country and beyond. Unfortunately, though some can take it too far as we’ve seen in recent cases involving players in Scottish football. It happens at all levels in a time where we should be aiming to be kinder to each other. Imagine if it was your friend or family member who was receiving the type of abuse that we see regularly online. Be kind and treat others the way you’d like to be treated yourself.