Every day and everyone’s mental health are important

How many of you knew that Mental Health week was 10-16 May 2021?

The week was used to promote Mental Health awareness, and well known people spoke about their own mental health in the hope that you would be encouraged to think and discuss your own.

Marie, the Director of Samaritans in Ballymena said: “Having a week dedicated to Mental Health awareness is a great starting point. However everyone should be aware of their own Mental Health every day of the year and understand that how they are feeling can not only affect them as individuals but also their friends, family and work colleagues.”

Feeling low or down after a bereavement, the ending of a relationship, illness, financial challenges or the loss of a much loved pet is a normal and appropriate reaction. If, however, you find that you are struggling to cope with every day activities e.g. struggling to sleep, get out of bed, washed and dressed, answer the phone, go outside or find that you are having thoughts of life not being worth living then maybe you should consider speaking to someone you trust.

Marie continued: “Everyone reacts to change and challenging situations differently. You may feel that what you are facing at that particular moment is “Just too much” and you want the situation to change but you just can’t work out how to help yourself. That is natural, a lot of people can feel like that. Or you may be feel that you just want either the physical or mental pain you are in to stop just for a moment, feeling like that can lead to thoughts of suicide. Samaritans are always available to listen if you ever find yourself struggling. You do not have to be suicidal to contact Samaritans – we will help you explore all of your options or just listen to what you may be going through. Phone 116 123 FREE to speak to a volunteer or if your prefer email [email protected] – you do not have to give your real name and the number does not appear on your phone bill. Every contact is confidential.”

If you find yourself struggling –

See the problem – Consider what the problem is and write down how you think you could solve it. You may not be able to solve it yourself or there may be others who could help. Writing things down might help you to see a way forward.

Challenge any negative thoughts – e.g. “I am blaming myself for things that I can’t control” or “I refuse to assume that the worst will happen”. Sometimes you can get lost in a cycle of negative thoughts which can become hard to control.

If you can try to think of any positives – this might not always be easy but may help to drown out some of the negative thoughts.

Accept that life can be full of disappointments – we all face challenges and setbacks. What is important is how you deal with them. Accepting them and learning from them will boost your mental health resilience.

Be aware of how your mental health is affecting you – your feelings can change from moment to moment and day to day. Reach out for help or accept it if it is offered. Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength.

Following a year of COVID restrictions, lockdown and isolation – things may be gradually returning to some form of normal. Marie continued: “The past year has been a struggle for a lot of people. Not being able to leave the house as normal, having jobs put on furlough or under threat, not being able to get married or visit loved ones in hospitals or care homes and if you have lost a loved one not being able to grieve for them as you normally would have been a struggle for anyone. You may not want to worry your family or friends about the stress you are under so you bottle things up inside, making yourself ill or depressed. Seeking help and support is a sign of strength. Samaritans volunteers understand the challenges and are always there if you need to talk to someone. We do not judge but are there to support you – no matter what you are going through we will always provide a sounding board.

“Whenever you need support, even in the middle of the night, a volunteer will be available to listen in total confidentiality. Contact us on 116123 or e-mail [email protected] Samaritans always treat you with respect and understanding. We don’t tell you what to do but give you space to work through all your options.”

When things return to “normal” Ballymena Samaritans has a very strong outreach team, going out to schools, clubs, in fact any organisation that invites Samaritans to come and talk about the work we do.

If you would like to find out more about the service provided by Samaritans or if you would like a representative to come to your group, business, church or school please get in touch. Talks are tailored to suit different groups and ages. Contact the Ballymena branch on 028 2564 4846 daily between 7.30pm and 10.00pm or e-mail [email protected]  for more information.  

Samaritans has eight branches throughout Northern Ireland which can be contacted in confidence, 24 hours a day on 116123.

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