Mental health issues affect many people in the world. You or someone you know may have battled with excessive stress, anxiety, negative feelings or even depression. The fact is, mental health problems are real. They are more than just sadness or feeling down, (See definition below). If not properly dealt with, certain serious forms of mental health problems may have tragic outcomes. Some people suffering from mental health problems may choose to suffer in silence due to several reasons such as fear of stigmatization or a feeling of helplessness. Commendably, however, some do reach out and seek help. So as close friends, brother, sisters we need to step up and help one another to fight mental health problems.
Of late I have been pondering over the insightful African proverbs such as the Shona proverb which states, "Chara chimwe hachitswanyi inda", which directly translates to "one finger cannot effectively squash lice". The proverb figuratively implies that there are some life problems, which a person cannot effectively solve without the help of other people. Pondering over the proverb got me to appreciate the wisdom of the African elders, who used analogies to present important life lessons such as the importance of cooperation. Looking at the proverb in the context of mental health, got me to realize that no one should fight mental health problems alone. We all have a part to play in identifying when our loved ones are facing a mental health problem and fighting the problem together with them. So what can you do?
Firstly, you need to be keen to notice when things are not going quite well with your friend or relative. Several behavioural pointers may give a hint that someone is coping with a mental health problem. I will not attempt to give an exhaustive list but some of the pointers include: appearing sad or tearful, getting easily upset, changes in sleep or dietary patterns, loss of interest in hobbies, frequent talk about ending one's life etc. By observing those pointers, you can be prompted to take action and help someone who is struggling with a mental health problem.
When you are worried that someone may be suffering from a mental health problem, it is important to tactfully talk to them and find out what the problem could be, as soon as possible. As you talk to them you need to portray good listening skills. You may also need to ask tactful and insightful questions to draw their innermost feelings. Tact here is warranted because you never want to sound rude or judgmental. A biblical proverb mentions that a skilful person can draw water from a deep well, much like a wise person can draw the inner thoughts of a person. You can also do a similar thing by using insightful questions. I am not saying that you have to be complicated to ask questions that are worth the effort, rather asking simple well-meaning questions will do. Effectively talking to them will portray a good image of your intentions for helping them and will likely ensure that they are willing to accept the help you will offer them.
Further to personally talking to them about their mental health problem, we may need to recommend that they talk to an expert about their mental health problem. You may need to assure them that mental health experts are professionals who are qualified to help people fighting a problem such as theirs. You may need to do a thorough search for the mental health experts locally where they stay. If you see it appropriate you may need to help your friend or relative to stick to their therapy plan. Accompanying them to their therapy sessions may help in their adherence to therapy, and it may also help you to learn more about the mental health problem, especially when you get to talk to their therapist.
As a personal initiative, you need to learn more about mental health problems that can affect you or your relatives and friends. There are many ways you can do so. You can listen to programs about mental health in the mass media. Additionally, you can also look for published books and articles about mental health on the internet or in your local library. Furthermore, you can also attend seminars and events which focus on mental health issues. Again, you can also talk to mental health experts available near you and learn more about mental health issues. It does not matter much, how you find accurate information, but what matters most is that you are acquiring information to help someone fight a mental health problem.
One last thing that you can do and that is recommended by many information sources is to help someone to break, a cycle of unwholesome thoughts or feelings. One way you could do so by shifting their focus on another task such as by inviting them on an errand. Alternatively, you could also ask them to join you for your physical exercise or a walk in the park, observing nature. That resonates with this year's theme for Mental Health Awareness Week, which is held annually and will run from 10 to 16 May 2021. The theme is: Connect with Nature. This year's Mental Health Awareness Week will have a special focus on how people can improve their mental health by connecting with nature. Additionally, there will be numerous discussions about mental health that will be broadcast on various media during that week and during May which is Mental Health Awareness Month. Please make it your personal effort to learn something about mental health during May. And do not forget to tell others about the global event.
You can do something to help someone fight a mental health problem. If you are a victim of a mental health problem, please remember that the help you need is out there. So I encourage you, please try as much as you can to reach out to help the people whom you trust. Remember, the insightful African proverb, Chara chimwe hachitswanyi inda, together we can put up an effective fight!!!
Mental health problems: Mental health problems are are a wide range of problems that may involve being overwhelmed by processes such as thinking, feeling and reacting. Often, people suffering from mental health problems may concentrate on certain troubling feelings or thoughts only and may find it hard to concentrate on other, positive thoughts or feelings. They may lack the motivation to perform daily tasks and may find no pleasure in undertaking some of their hobbies. They may also have physical symptoms such as headache or a feeling of exhaustion. Some of the common mental health problems are anxiety and depression.
N.B: They are problems that can be diagnosed by a doctor and are not personal weaknesses.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog article. I am not an expert on mental health issues, but I do acknowledge that they affect most if not all of us. If there is any information that I may have left out or any information that appears to be imprecise, please feel free to express your ideas on this platform. Please do so by using our comments section. Also, remember that you can also use the feature to share your valuable feedback. You will have to log in
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