The 10th of October is World Mental Health Day. Did you know that about 1 in 4 people will experience mental health problems each year?
This means, that most likely, you will know someone who has struggled with their mental health or you may have experienced mental health struggles yourself.
Many people with epilepsy will have experienced mental health issues themselves. In the UK, 1 in 6 people will have depression but for people with epilepsy, this figure increases to 1 in 3.
There can be many reasons why people with epilepsy can have low mood or are affected by depression. A diagnosis of epilepsy can feel like your world’s been turned upside down.
Even though things are starting to get back to normal, we know that the pandemic has had a big impact on people’s mental health and will continue to do so when the pandemic is finally over.
It can take time for someone’s mental health to improve, and some of us may need professional help, but there are ways to help and support someone to help get back to positive mental health.
If you are worried about a family member, friend, employee, or a work colleague, the below are some of the things you can do to help and support them.
Express concern and say you want to help
Letting someone know you’re worried is a good way to open up a conversation. It shows you care about the person, have time for them, and that they do not have to hide things from you.
The first time someone mentions their worries, acknowledge what they feel and reassure them that you take them seriously. Let them know you’re there to listen and when they need to talk.
There may be reasons why they have found it difficult to ask for help. Be patient and just being there for them can be helpful for someone who may want to open up later.
It is important that you do not force someone to talk to you or get help and do not contact their doctor without their consent. This may lead them to feeling uncomfortable with less power and less able to speak for themselves.
If they do not want support, gently explore their reasons why. If they are unsure whether to get help, just talking and listening without judgement could help work out what’s getting in the way.
Act as you usually do together
Behaving differently can make someone feel more isolated. Do not be afraid to offer kind words and a space to talk, whether by phone, messaging or in person.
Listening is an important skill. Ask open questions that start with ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘when’. This can help people open up.
Look after yourself
It can be upsetting to hear someone you care about in distress. It is important that you are kind to yourself and take some time out to relax or do something you enjoy.
Why your support helps
You may worry that you do not know the best way to help or will say something wrong and make things worse. However, the small things we say or do can make a big difference to someone.
Even just telling them you see their struggle can be an important help. Starting the conversation may be difficult, and it’s normal to feel upset if someone you care about is struggling. But it can help to stay calm and assure they do not have to deal with things alone.
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, we are here for you. Our free and confidential helpline receives many calls from people who struggle to come to terms with their epilepsy and are struggling with their mental health.
There is lots of information on the internet about self-care, looking after your mental health and how you can support someone struggling with their mental health.
Mind, the Mental Health charity, have some useful resources, have a look by clicking here.