Next week is Mental Health Week and on the eve of that week Global News has published some very disturbing news. Some of it I may have guessed but the numbers of millennials who are suffering with un-diagnosed mental health issues is frightening.
The report from Global says 53% of milennials have mental issues but they believe they are OK. They don’t think they have a problem.
It is frightening to me that the sad and super stressed state of mind which most young adults live with they see as “normal” or “OK”.
Something in the report that didn’t surprise me was the statement that even if they do try to help “they can’t find it.”
This is where the ordinary folks of this world need to take matters into hand. There are not enough doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, counselors or social workers to support this kind of need but there are enough parents and friends to make a huge difference.
You don’t have to be a Shrink to know when your friends and family are in need of help. You might want to brush up on some of the very serious issues like psychosis and suicidal behaviours so you can identify your own limits and get professional intervention but even then the wait lists are long and the treatment may take months to begin working.
One thing every depressed person needs and gets support from is people who genuinely care. People who are patient with the struggle, willing to listen to the same issue over and over, wiling to allow people time to work through issues in their way and in their time. You need to know how to shut up and not give advice or cliche answers to problems. A warm bath may help but when the world feels like it’s falling apart be careful not suggest one. You are better to ask what would help and then support the person in making that happen.
Years ago when my own depression had gotten to the point of debilitation I no longer knew what would help. My friend asked if I would like to go for a walk with her and we did. It wasn’t far but it was easier because someone was there with me. She went with me every day for weeks until finally I was able to get motivated to go on my own walks. There is little doubt the 20 years of walks that followed likely saved my life.
If you have a friend who lives with anxiety ( a close cousin to depression) you may not even be aware of it. They may not be aware either but they likely know that they have trouble figuring out simple daily tasks. When you ask them to take on another without offering help to do it you may be breaking the camels back. I know for me there are days when just figuring out what to wear is a major task. On top of that I have to do this normal stuff like go to work, figure out what to make for meals, make appointments and answer calls. Add to that some insanely complicated task like income tax and I’m over the edge.
You and I cannot change the statistics about mental health issues alone but we can be friends . We can be compassionate and understanding partners who don’t get angry and frustrated by a person’s inability to complete things but rather pitch in and help with some of the load. It likely wouldn’t be that hard for you to help in the kitchen, help with the numbers for the taxes or just offer to go for a walk. We are so isolated in this world that kindness and spoken words seem like ointment on a wound.
There will be lots of material floating around next week about mental health. Learn what you can but better than that, reach out to someone who is struggling.
(PS – Stigma is just a sugar coated word for discrimination)
The best question you may be able to ask anyone who is struggling is “What do you need and how can help you accomplish it.” They may not be able to figure that out either but listen well and you will hear the answer.
I would be quick to say those questions need to be asked with real words not in a text or a facebook message. They need to hear your voice and feel your hand on their shoulder.
Remember when they won’t or can’t find help you can find help to help them. Call a crisis line and get some ideas about what you might do. If you are worried about their safety and believe they may be suicidal call 911. I would rather have someone hate me for calling than have a friend who is dead because I didn’t.