This article is part of a series:

Talk about mental health

Addressing people who are dealing with mental health problems, and those who want to help them.

  1. Let's talk about mental health
  2. It's OK not to be OK

Disclaimer: I'm in no way an expert in mental health nor professionally attached to the subject (and frankly, I do not want to be, either). My knowledge comes from personal experience and from my social and professional circle, which contains people dealing with depression, autism, Impostor Syndrome, and more.

I've been open about my issues for years, something I learned with other people's help. Likewise, I've been a listener to other people's stories of struggle, too (albeit purposely in moderation, I'm not a professional after all). Several of them have thanked me for helping or encouraging them when I didn't think my actions were that special.

The feedback I get from people? They are often just happy that someone was willing to listen and talk to them. Being encouraged instead of being judged is a big plus. Some needed another person's perspective to realize they were going downhill. Some were happy they could finally acknowledge what they already knew deep inside.

So people benefit from good and open conversations? Who would have guessed? (OK, that was sarcasm)

The internet is a blessing and a curse

Over the years, I've noticed more mental health mentions on social media and in online discussions. Whether this is due to my perception or an increase in popularity for the subject, I do not know. Either way, I like people breaking taboos and stigmas on the subject. One downside: the internet provides a lot of bad for the good it does.

Let's focus on the good of the internet for the moment. People can find other people who suffer from similar issues to theirs. Here is where the world wide web honors its name: a place where people connect, share, learn and improve, without boundariesā€”one where you can build the courage to ask help away from the computer as well.

And there is the bad. The internet is a place filled with trolls and people spouting hate and negative opinions about anything they can get their hands on. It is essential to know that you are not a worse person because of what some idiot troll tells you. (And boy, are there a lot of idiots online!)

Keep in mind

Two important things to remember:

One: There are loads of different labels you can attach to a person; mental health and mental disorders are just two of them (and they are very different!). When it comes to mental health, issues can relate to disease, hormonal imbalance, developmental disorders, trauma, lack of sleep, bad experiences, and many more causes.

Two: Mental health is invisible. When someone has a cold, a broken arm, or is blind, you notice this quickly. People with an invisible illness or disorder already know: it's hard to get people to recognize what they can't see. Unsurprisingly, it's hard for untrained people to identify cause and effect, but a little respect and consideration go a long way.

So here's what you can do

We need the power of other people to become better versions of ourselves. It's inevitable, as humans are social animals by nature. So by all means: talk, share, use internet search engines (in moderation) to learn more of whatever ails you. And whatever happens: don't diagnose yourself: seek help; your GP is a good start.

Want to help someone else who's dealing with issues? Just listen and keep an open mind. Please encourage them to seek professional help, and personally try to have fun and not dwell on the negative. A person is, after all, defined by more than just their problems.

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