A little reminder.
It’s such an easy thing to say, but it’s a whole other kettle of fish to actually do it. For someone going through a horribly personal, painful time or experience, to suddenly open up after one ‘how are you mate?’, c’mon now.
Led by Luke Ambler, the #ItsOkayToTalk hashtag went viral after the rugby player posted this, following the death of his brother-in-law who committed suicide. Since it was posted, people—including the likes of the LAD Bible, Ricky Gervais, Quade Cooper—have taken to social media, posting selfies with an OK-sign.
The purpose of this hashtag is to ultimately help get guys talking about how they feel, but for me it starts before that. It’s letting them know it’s OKAY to talk, rather than actually forcing them to. It’s important for them to know where they can turn to if they need to exhale. People frequently tell me they know someone suffering from depression and are unsure as to how to go about speaking to them. The one bit of advice I always give is to be straight up and don’t try to immediately find solutions. Telling someone to ‘cheer up, it’ll be fine’, is probably the worst thing you could say. It doesn’t help and ultimately makes them feel even more isolated.
All I ever wanted was for someone to ask me how I was, and just allow me to exhale. I never spoke to anyone in the hope of them giving me answers. I needed to breathe. To be hugged. To feel like things are okay. I cannot stress the importance of letting people know you are THERE if they need it. So much of this gets fuelled by the feeling of isolation; in believing that they’re the only person on this planet feeling this way. They’re not. And it’s up to US to let them know that.
76% of UK suicides are male, and it’s still the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45.
Let’s help change the face of mental health, and help make this place a little better to live in. How can we start? Well, reach out to a friend and ask them how they’re doing. But really ask. Not a ‘how are you mate?’, but a ‘how are you feeling?’. It could be someone you’ve not spoken to for a while, it could be your best friend. It could be someone you’ve noticed hasn’t seemed their normal selves recently. You don’t need to find answers to their problems. You need to be there to listen. Reaching out may not even get a reaction at first, but it will plant the seed when they need help and are struggling about where to turn.