World Mental Health Day: 9 tips for helping those suffering from mental health issues around the world

World Mental Health Day is an opportunity to recognise the efforts of those who work to make sure that mental healthcare is a reality for all sufferers worldwide. It’s also a time when we can reflect on the way we treat those around us who struggle with mental illness.

Mental health problems are extremely common. In the UK alone, 1 in 4 people every year will experience some form of mental illness. Depression affects an estimated 300 million people and bipolar affective disorder affects 60 million people worldwide. 

It’s highly likely that each of us will either suffer from a mental health problem ourselves or know someone else who does. To mark World Mental Health Day, we’ve created a list of 9 tips for helping people with mental health issues, both close to home and around the world.

1. Offer a listening ear to friends or family members 

One of the most valuable things you can give someone who’s struggling with their mental health is a listening ear. Open up the conversation and allow them space to talk about how they’re feeling. They may have been waiting for someone to ask how they’re doing or listen as they describe how the past week has been for them.

2. Practice non-judgement

When supporting a friend, family member or partner with a mental health issue, it’s important to remain nonjudgmental. Don’t blame them for how they’re feeling. Insisting that they ‘snap out of it’ or ‘cheer up’ is counterproductive. No one asks to experience mental health problems and it’s no one’s fault if they’re not mentally well. 

3. Ask those close to you what you can do to help them 

It’s likely that your loved one already has some idea of what would be helpful to them during their time of need. They might ask you to keep them company on a particular day or pick up some grocery shopping. Struggles with mental health can make it difficult for people to leave the house or complete ordinary tasks.

4. Learn more about mental health

There are lots of amazing resources online that you can use to find out more about specific mental health conditions and tips for staying well. Mind, the Mental Health Foundation and NHS Choices offer accessible information for learning more about mental wellbeing. The more information you have, the more likely you are to be able to effectively help and support others.

5. Always recommend seeking professional help

You should always encourage someone experiencing mental health problems to speak to a health professional. Gently recommend that they make an appointment with their local GP surgery. Their doctor will be able to identify the best course of action and whether talking therapy or medication could be helpful. 

6. Help battle stigma in your daily life

We can all do our bit to reduce the stigma that still surrounds mental illness by tackling it in our day to day lives. This means not ‘othering’ those who are suffering from mental health problems, by treating them as though they’re strange or to be avoided.

It also means not using words like ‘psycho’ or ‘schizo’ to describe people, or using ‘bi polar’ or ‘OCD’ as a shorthand for certain behaviours. This can strip complex illnesses of their real meanings, propagate misinformation and contribute to stigma.

7. Raise money for a mental health charity

Go on a sponsored bike ride, sign up for a half marathon or even hold a bake sale at your place of work. If you’ve got a mental health organisation that you’d particularly like to raise money for, there are lots of ways to do this. When people find out what cause your supporting, it also helps to raise awareness

8. Donate to charities that provide mental healthcare worldwide

According to the World Health Organisation, between 76% and 85% of people suffering from mental health conditions in low and middle-income countries receive no treatment for their disorders. 

In places devastated by conflict, poverty or natural disasters, people are witnessing terrible atrocities and seeing their loved ones die. Children are particularly vulnerable to the psychological effects of trauma. Little ones who live in conflict zones or have been forced to flee their homes will bear deep emotional scars.

Due to the horrors they’ve endured, these people need psychological support more than ever, but in war-torn countries, many of the hospitals and clinics where people could have gone to receive medical help have been destroyed.

9. Support orphan welfare causes

Children who have tragically lost one or both parents are particularly vulnerable to psychological issues. By supporting orphan welfare projects, such as our orphanage in Jerusalem, you can help to provide children with the psychosocial support and care they need. With your help, we can give vulnerable little ones the safe and happy childhood they deserve. 

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