How do you know if your mate is off their game? Every year, one in four of us faces a mental health problem. That means the odds are 3/1 that at least one player on every five-a-side team is wrestling with a mental health problem right now. Or in every bus queue, at every tea-break or in every boy band. Feeling miserable puts you off your game so how do you know if you or someone you know has a mental health problem? You can’t tell by looking, but we can kick mental health problems into touch just by not ignoring them.
What if a mate has a problem?
Don’t judge. Because we don’t really understand mental health problems, sometimes we shy away from people who have them. We pretend we’re different, that these things won’t affect us. But they do. One person in four means that mental health problems are very common. They hit people just like us. In fact, they can hit you or me. By being around for someone with a mental health problem, you’re being a mate when they need you most. If you think a mate is bottling something up, there’s a simple way to make a difference:
Do something together: Car, computer, exercise, garden, walk – even housework. Get them to give you a hand. Feeling wanted makes us all feel better. You don’t have to talk but if you want to, doing something together makes it easier. James regularly meets up with his friends and they connect over football, watch James’s story about how doing something together (Connecting) is good for your wellbeing.
Keep it real: take it seriously but don’t make it a big deal. Ask them how it’s going. Simple. You don’t need to be an expert, you just need ears. We need to talk about it. It’s easier than you might think.
You don’t need any special skills, you just need to be willing to do it. Here’s what you can do if you think a friend is feeling crap:
- Ask: how’s its going? Three words that can make a big difference.
- Keep in touch more: text or email if you can’t meet up.
- Doing stuff together is as good as a chat: let your mate see that you know they are still the same person.
- Talk. Swap stories: don’t ignore the difficult stuff if it comes up – you don’t need to solve it, you just need ears.
- Keep it real: don’t make a big deal of how your mate is feeling but don’t make light of it either.
- Be there: ask if you can do anything.
Watch out for extremes compared to typical behaviour. This includes mood swings or being unusually angry or aggressive, having no energy or way too much energy, wanting to be alone more and more or wanting to go out more and more or refuelling too much with drink or drugs. It can happen to anyone. You included.
If you’re worried you’re missing out on life because you’re feeling crap, talk about it. Talk to family, friends, a helpline or other professionals. It doesn’t have to be someone you know. The NHS have funded free talking therapies in Kent and Medway find out how you can refer yourself into this service here by following the link or you can always ring the 24 Mental Health Matters helpline on 0800 107 0160 or go to our Need Help Now page for more information on 24 hour help and support.
The Mens Health Forum have been working with Time to Change to develop some more information that could help you. Find out more at the links below: