As scary as it might feel at the time, talking about mental health is one of the most important ways to remove the stigma and potentially save lives.
People suffer different levels of mental illness, often for many different reasons, but one thing is always the same; talking to someone about it is the first step towards getting better. If you are struggling with any form of mental illness and aren’t sure whether you should speak up about it, remember these 5 things:
Telling someone that you are struggling with your mental health does NOT make you weak, it makes you brave
The conversation will be terrifying, uncomfortable and even feel like the wrong decision at the time. It is making yourself completely vulnerable for the sake of getting back to the best version of yourself. It is putting your foot down, accepting that you need help and facing your illness head on. There is NOTHING weak about any of that. If you ask me, it sounds like one of the bravest things anyone could ever do.
You’re not alone
It might feel very much like you are, but we promise you that you are not. In 2017, Mission Australia and Black Dog Institute released the results of a five-year youth mental health report and showed that almost one in four young people meet the criteria for a probable serious mental illness. This means that, statistically, someone very close to you is likely struggling with their mental health and having the exact same feelings of isolation that you are. Speaking up and seeking help might not only help you get better, but also give someone very close to you the courage the speak up themselves and the comfort of knowing that you are both on the journey of wellbeing together.
It might get worse before it gets better
Being brave enough to talk to someone is the first step towards feeling better, but it unfortunately isn’t going to fix it overnight. It will get tough when you finally let it out. You will not only be coming to terms with it yourself, but you will have to change your life in order to get better. This will include talking to professionals, exercising, mindfulness activities and buying a sh*tload of tissues. You might feel like giving up and slumping back in to your old ways but before you do, remember one thing; you WILL eventually start to feel better, and when you do, it is such an amazing feeling that it makes every single hard day that got you there worth it.
The longer you keep it in, the more it’s going to affect you
Don’t let these feelings build up inside you, it will only make things worse. Don’t hold it in on a count of not wanting to burden people you care about or think that it’s "just the way I'm wired so why do anything about it". The more you try to hide from it, the worse you will treat yourself and the more intense and overwhelming the feelings will get until you eventually explode. It’s going to get harder every day that you live with your secret. Take the first step today.
Don’t compare your life to what you see on social media
We live in a world where we are constantly flooded with images of people we know putting the best 2% of their life on Instagram. This is not how these people live, it is a façade. Don’t let these fake images of fake lives make you feel weak for the internal battle that you are having with yourself. They are no better than you, they are simply more committed to getting people to taking photos of them when they see a nice car parked on the street. You are so special and worth so much to so many people, don’t waste your time comparing yourself to something that isn’t even real.
If you, or someone close to you is struggling with their mental health, AFTT encourages you to speak up and seek help:
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 46 36
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
Headspace: 1800 650 890