In recent years my confidence has slowly grown to allow me to share my story and experiences with others in the hope that I may inspire others to do the same. The more we talk about mental health, the closer we come to ending the stigma surrounding it. The Ask Twice campaign is there to help us achieve this.
Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go and there are many individuals who suffer in silence, hiding their pain. In education, in the workplace, in everyday life, we still find it difficult to talk openly about our mental health. Why? The fear of being belittled, shunned, deserted or just not being taken seriously, are some of the reasons why we don’t speak out. This is especially true for Men where in many circles mental health is still seen as an unspoken, taboo subject. So what do we do? We hide our thoughts, feelings and struggles. We box them away in the hope they will disappear and convince ourselves that no one will be interested in hearing about them. The long-term impact of which can be truly devastating.
But the more we talk the closer we come to breaking down the stigma. And it’s more important than ever to start making conversation.
For Time to Talk Day 2018, I wrote about the simple things that can make a huge difference to how people feel, turning a bad day into a better one. Many people don’t ask about others’ mental health because they are not sure what to ask or how to respond. But it is small acts of kindness and compassion that make the most difference. However, it’s not always that easy. Often, when asked how we are, even by those closest to us, the majority of us seem to have a built-in, automatic reply: “I’m fine”.
But sometimes we say we’re fine when we’re not.
Why do we do this? Well, for many of the reasons mentioned above. For me, there are more than I can list and even as somebody who has spoken about their struggles so publicly, I still find it difficult to open up. Matthew has written a piece that resonates with me deeply and sums up why it’s hard to open up about your own struggles.
I too fall into that category of saying everything’s ok when clearly it isn’t. I worry about burdening others and often convince myself that nobody is genuinely interested in what I have to say. But more often than you care to admit, this is simply not true.
So if your mate’s acting differently, ask twice.
Launched towards the end of 2018, Ask Twice is a brilliant campaign from Time to Change, an organisation at the forefront of changing how we all think and act about mental health problems.
More often than not, the words ‘I’m fine’ mark the end of the conversation with your mate…even if it’s clear to see something is not quite right. Asking twice gives you the opportunity to show them that you are interested in what they have to say and what they are going through. For me, a mate asking twice meant I thought ‘hang on a minute, they really do care about what I have to say’. This eased the tension and made me feel a little more comfortable in opening up. It really made a huge difference. And if your mate doesn’t feel like opening up at the moment? Don’t worry! You’ve still had a deeply positive impact, showing your mate that you are there for them, whenever they need it.
So if you notice your mate is acting differently, or something isn’t quite right…ask twice. Help end the stigma surrounding mental health. It really is Time to Change.
If you’re experiencing mental health problems or need urgent support you can find a number of mental health resources right here.
Time to Talk Day 2018 – The Cruising Baker
5 ways to ask twice when your mate says ‘I’m fine’ – Time to Change