February 7th is Time to Talk Day and it’s all about talking about mental health and removing the stigma of mental illnesses.
Most people will suffer from a mental health problem at some time in their life – that means when you look around at your friends, many of them have, have had or will have, a mental illness. Some of them are probably already quite open about it; others may not be, and these are the ones I want to talk about.
I have friends who are quite vocal about suffering from depression and will often post statuses on Facebook like “What’s the point?” or “Having a bad day!” They get instant support. Their timeline gets filled with virtual hugs, and a couple of days later they post pictures of the flowers and gifts they’ve received, along with messages of thanks for visits. All this is brilliant and it’s good to see people rallying to support someone who needs it.
But what about the people who don’t post statuses like that? What about the ones who just quietly slip out of circulation? Maybe they are genuinely busy and will be back online in a couple of days or a couple of weeks – but maybe they are struggling and don’t know how to express it. Maybe they could do with a helping hand but they’re struggling so much that they don’t even have the energy to post, “Having a bad time!” on Facebook. Maybe they are not coping but don’t want to feel like a burden, so instead they hide away. Don’t let these friends be a case of out-of-sight out-of-mind and don’t assume that just because they haven’t asked for help it means they don’t need it.
Coincidentally, February 7th is also Send a Card to a Friend Day. Perhaps on this day you could take a few minutes to think about each of your friends and then send a card (or a text or an instant message or even make a phone call) to someone you haven’t heard from for a while. Tell them how much their friendship means to you and check they are ok. If they are suffering from depression or some other mental health issue it will help them to realise they are not alone. Even if they’re feeling fit and well and just decided to take a social media break it will brighten their day to hear from you and that can never be a bad thing.
Please don’t stop supporting the friends who ask for help. They obviously need it. But please also remember that it’s often the people who don’t ask for help who need it the most.