You might have heard that today is the start of Mental Health Awareness Week. Recently I have seen some tweets from the likes of 'Piers Morgan' discouraging men to open up about their mental health. This is deeply concerning given that suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK, with 75% of all UK suicides in 2015 being men. I wanted to use today to highlight the personal stories of some of the WONDERFUL Male Time to Change Young Champions and how having someone in their corner has helped them through their mental health difficulties.
Over the course of Mental Health Awareness Week I will be highlighting other personal stories, so check in tomorrow for the next post.
For more information on this wonderful campaign see Time to Change for videos, resources and more!
Support and no judgement
"Since leaving school around 8 years ago, I lost contact with previous friends and struggled to make any new ones as I isolated myself further because of a variety of reasons, which lead to me never having an outlet to talk about my mental health. Until I entered counselling a few years ago, I didn’t really discuss my mental health and even then it was small steps for me as I could go months without seeing my counsellor if I wanted too. A year and a half ago, however, I began a postgraduate course at university and decided to take it upon myself to try and make connections with people on my course and at the very least have some people to socialise with, which I managed to do and in particular one person I met on my course was someone who I felt I could talk too and get on with both at and outside of university. While I haven’t been explicit in all my mental health problems that I face with this friend, I have talked about having depression and regular bouts of anxiety with them, and what they have done hasn’t been anything huge, but instead they have just listened to me when I’ve had problems, been there to support me and just been a friend when that’s what I needed. Without their support I think I definitely would have struggled more at university and struggled more to take up opportunities like being a Young Champion for Time to Change. Just having someone there who you can meet up with and who you know will listen to you without judging you is a great thing." - Peter Shaw
To see more from Peter please follow him on twitter @pjshaw192
He helped me feel safe
"Whilst my bipolar undoubtedly has a significant and near constant impact on my life, it’s one that I’ve spent more than ten years learning to manage. Over the years I’ve struggled in different ways, against various different symptoms of my illness, and I’ve had my fair share of bad experiences. I’m fortunate now that I can talk openly but it wasn’t always the case, and when I was first diagnosed with depression ten years ago I didn’t feel I knew how to talk about it. And it’s not always the talking, sometimes it’s small actions that let you know people are there. I’ll never forget being agoraphobic and unable to leave house, gradually working my way up to travelling between safe spaces and often retreating into the safety of my bed because the world can just be a bit too daunting. One friend in particular didn’t really get my depression, I mean I didn’t really either, but he used to come round all the same. He would play games with me for hours when I didn’t want to go anywhere, and when I did he would walk to my house, meet me, and walk with me to wherever we might be going. Even if that was all the way back to his house. Over time my agoraphobia lifted, and maybe I could’ve done it without him, but he accelerated the process and he helped me feel safe. So if people want to talk, let them talk, be engaged and ask questions. But if they don’t, let them be, but do something with them. Let them know that they are still the person you want in your life, even if they don’t feel like that person at the moment. And be practical, because often it’s the practical things that are the hardest when you’re in that pit of despair." - Ross Nation
There was no pressure
"At the start of my volunteering activism, I became part of two very special youth projects (for me anyway) that became vital in the opportunities I got involved with later. Linda (not her real name) was the youth worker who oversaw these projects. While I would generally feel happy to be part of the group meetings and getting on with the work to complete, I would occasionally feel anxious or stressed about issues with my situation at college or anything that might be happening from home. Although I was checked to make sure I was okay, there was no pressure to reveal anything that was going on and to take my own time. I would also occasionally get things wrong, like being too blunt in how I might speak to people sometimes, and Linda would challenge me on these points that could cause problems later on. Though at the time it could feel awkward, I appreciate honest feedback from people that allow me to learn from that later. As a professional relationship, as any for youth workers and young people should be, I am very grateful to her for being in my corner at that time in my life." - Jack Welch
To see more from Jack please follow him on twitter @MrJW18
Be the difference to their fight
"Suffering from mental health problems can be one of the most isolating, scary and lonely times in a persons life. If you can be in that persons corner, that will make a huge difference to their fight." - James Woods
To see more from James please check out his blog here and follow him on twitter @jamesofthinking
My goals stayed in sight
"I had two friends who I felt were in my corner. When I was first diagnosed, I remember feeling so different and just craved normality. These two friends treated me with kindness! They checked in on how I was feeling and they encouraged me when I was struggling. More importantly they treated me like nothing had changed, that I was still the same Luke to them! Having the support of those close to me, helped me come to terms with my mental health. It helped me realise that I shouldn't be encumbered by my mental health and should still continue towards my goals. Always try and reach out to your friends, you never know which one of them is the most in need. A simple “How are you doing really?” can be a real difference." - Luke Watkin
I hope these wonderful #InYourCorner stories inspire you to be in your loved ones corner. Thank you to the fabulous Young Champions who have contributed to this post, it has honestly been so overwhelming to see how your loved ones have supported you and the positive impact this has had!
I would love to hear how people have been in your corner and how you have been in a loved ones corner!
Sending positive vibes,