Today is #WorldMentalHealthDay. If you have been reading my blog in recent weeks, you’ll know this is a topic very close to my heart. Having struggled to deal with my mental health of late and after probably experiencing the darkest days I’ve ever experienced in my young life, I want people like me to feel better equipped to help their friends and loved ones deal with poor mental health.
This post is for people like me. Young black men from working class backgrounds who have never had any meaningful discussions about our mental health. I’m going to list some of the things you can do to help your loved ones. Hope this helps.
- Be there
No. Not in the cliché “I will always be there for you” way. I mean really be there. When you’re with them pay attention, listen to them and truly digest what it is they are saying. Lots of us have a tendency to be in each other’s presence without really spending any time with each other. How many times do you walk into a group of friends when all of them have their face down mindlessly scrolling through Insta? It’s very easy for someone to feel lonely among a crowd of people.
- Be consistent
We all lead busy lives. It’s incredibly easy to be so focused on what it is you’re doing that you forget that your commitments to your loved ones are just as important as work and other commitments. You said you’d go out for drinks? Make sure you don’t let them down. You said let’s link up and play fifa? You better not forget that commitment for something more “important”. It might sound a tad burdensome but if we accept that word is bond then this should really come as second nature.
- Be loyal
Many people suffering with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression can often appear unenthusiastic, disengaged and even a little disgruntled. Be patient. If you’ve made a commitment to be there for a loved one, don’t shirk on that responsibility. Relationships are hard to build and easy to break. To someone who’s already emotionally fragile this is even more true. Take your relationship seriously and stick with them through the darkest of times.
- Be YOU!
For whatever reason, many of you turn into some Dr Phil meets Trisha Goddard hybrid whenever you know one of your friends is going through a tough time. It’s really not everyday “so how are you feeling?” Bruddah, I’m feeling like shit. That’s why I’m here trying to chat about poomps.
Nah but serious, there is obviously a time to talk about your feelings but understand you are their friend not therapist. You are friends because they like you and enjoy your company. Being you is the best therapy you can give them.
In many ways, the above 4 points are 4 ways to say the same thing. I can summarise them all by simply saying: be a decent friend and don’t be a dick. But that’s far less engaging.
Hope you enjoyed 🙂