Caring for elephants

Caring for elephants

Mental health is the elephant in the room of our wellbeing, one that fades in and out of view.

It’s always there, it’s just that sometimes it’s invisible. Like when everything’s going great – then, you can’t see Mental Health Elephant, can you?

But when all is not so good we start to catch sight of it, out of the corner of our eye.

As our issues snowball Mental Health Elephant starts to materialise. It stops hiding in corners.

And when all is very bad, Mental Health Elephant sits on our chest, glaring fiercely at us, looking pretty terrifying.

Some people get crushed. Literally.

One of the ironies of good mental health is we know it’s important, but we don’t prioritise it.

Even though one in four of us will find our mental health impacting on our wellbeing, for employers health and safety seems to mostly focus on where the fire exits are and who’s a first aider. Pound to a penny the first aiders know how to dress a head wound, but not how to handle a colleague sobbing hysterically in the loo.

Even though 25% of us will be effected – and according to the charity, Mind, that’s every year a quarter of the population find their mental health straining at the seams… we don’t like talking about it.

And because we don’t talk about it we don’t know what to do when our mental health starts to fall apart.

We might go to see our GP, we might even get referred for counselling straight away. But if the GP is unsympathetic, or so stressed themselves their reactions make us feel worse, it doesn’t occur to us to seek help somewhere else. If our first counsellor isn’t connecting with us we presume there’s something wrong with us.

Mental health professionals and the therapies they practice vary enormously. Unfortunately, by the time people seek professional help Mental Health Elephant is very much in view. It’s blocking our view of the big picture.

In some ways going to therapy is like going on holiday; just because you don’t like the first one you try, it doesn’t mean they’re not for you.

If you went on holiday and it was ok but the climate didn’t suit you, the food upset your stomach and you didn’t like the hotel, you wouldn’t throw your hands up and say ‘Well that’s it, I’m never going on holiday again. Holidays don’t work for me.’

You’d try a different formula. Maybe you went walking in Scotland when a beach holiday in the South of France would suit you better. Maybe you like the beach, but you love tapas… so you’d look at Spain.

But because we don’t talk about mental health, we don’t know our options or understand the therapies that are out there.

I trained in Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT) because I found its impact instant, the insights incredibly powerful and the experience continued to give for me. RTT may not be a fit for you, just as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) suits some people, but not everyone. Everyone has choice. Discovering that there is always choice, that seems to be news to people. And, of course, when our mental health is less than great, it’s difficult to take control when you’re being told one choice is your hope.

This week I attended an event at UK Fast, quite broadly titled Entrepreneurs and Mental Health.

Entrepreneurs do face unique mental health challenges. Working for yourself is, of course, more isolating than in a large organisation. Although as some of you all recognise, feeling isolated in a crowded office is just as lonely a feeling, if not more so.

Speaker after speaker took to the stage, bravely telling how they reached crisis, their tipping points and their experience of the care they found, or didn’t.

Several channelled their energy into helping others, including comedian and writer, Jake Mills. Jake’s despair took him to a suicide attempt. His Hub of Hope is a first of its kind national database of mental health advice and support.

Jake’s database – available as an Apple app, or through a website – finds you the mental health care support in your area. Or someone to talk to. Instantly. You can just type in your postcode… and watch your elephant start to fade again.

Please share, Hub of Hope could save a life.