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Common Questions about Mental Health

How can I notice a mental health condition?

Mental health is hard to notice because it’s about how we think, feel and act, and this is always changing. When our mental health is good, we enjoy being with others and feel able to take new and hard things. When our mental health is not good, we find it hard to cope. We develop a mental health problem when thoughts and feelings stop us from doing the things we enjoy, or our ability to feel ok. When this happens, we may need support with our mental health.

I think my friend is depressed. How can I help them?

First, let your friend know that you are there for them. Don’t press them to talk, but let them know that they can. Explain that you will keep their story quiet and you won't spread gossip.

  • Do not judge what they say to you, even if you think they are being silly. Accept their feelings and show you care by saying:
    Thank you for sharing this with me. I know this isn't easy.
  • Listen carefully. Ask what will be helpful and offer to do that with them, even if it’s simple, like watching a movie.
  • Comfort them. Try saying 'you won't always feel like this' or 'you're not alone in this – there's lot of people who care about you'.
  • Don’t tell them what to do, but offer ideas such as:
    ‘Have you thought about telling a teacher?’ or
    ‘Did you know there is a toll-free advice line?’
  • Keep checking in. If you friend does not respond, don't get angry. Be patient and let them know you are still there waiting, and eager to help. Caring for someone can be very hard.
  • Help them get help. If your friend has been experiencing difficult feelings and needs help, encourage them and support them in finding and speaking with an adult who can help, such as a parent, teacher, a counselor, or a health care professional. You could even offer to go with them to talk to them.

Somebody in my family has a mental health conditions. What are the chances that I will go through that as well?

Just because someone in your family has had a mental health condition does not mean that you will have one. Some studies have shown that if a family member has certain types of mental health conditions, there is an increased chance that others in the family will also experience it. We do not fully know what causes this. No one can say if someone will or will not develop a mental health condition. practicing good self-care tips will help your mental health and is good for everyone to do .

How do I know when to get help with my mental health?

Just like each of us gets sick at some point in our lives, many of us will struggle with our mental health.

Here are some signs to look out for which would indicate that you may need support:

  • Feeling hopeless, worthless – struggling to see the bright side of life, or wishing you didn’t exist.
  • Getting into lots of arguments or fights.
  • Feeling very sad, angry or anxious all the time.
  • Numbness – not feeling any emotions at all, not being able to get out of bed or do the things you enjoy.
  • Extreme highs and lows, or mood swings.
  • Not feeling able to calm yourself down, being on edge or thoughts going round and round in your mind.
  • Changes to your eating patterns – starving yourself, over-eating, making yourself sick.
  • Using substances, like alcohol or marijuana to help you forget or cope with your feelings.
  • Hurting yourself on purpose.

If you experience any of these thoughts, feelings or behaviours, it is important to seek help. This does not mean that you must have a mental health condition, but some support may help you.

Do people with a mental health condition recover from it?

Yes. Most people who experience a mental health condition will recover and some will only have a single event. A few people can get the condition again later on. Only very few people live with mental health conditions for their whole lives. With the right help, people living with a mental health condition have a good life without any major challenges.

Are mental conditions caused by spirits or a curse?

There is no evidence that mental health problems are caused by spiritual, religious or witchcraft practices. There are many reasons why people experience poor mental health, such home life, support network, physical health and the support available to them. Many people who are having a hard time are helped by their existing religious practices but when someone is experiencing a mental health condition they also need different types of support. It is important to seek help from health professionals if someone is experiencing a mental health problem or condition

Does exercising really help mental health?

Exercise can improve your mood, focus, and energy. It can even help you have a positive view on life.

Regular exercise can help you sleep better. Good sleep helps your mood. Exercise can also help you feel in control and feel good about yourself . You can learn more about exercise and staying physically healthy in the Physical Health section of this site.

What is stigma and how does it affect people with mental health conditions?

Stigma is an unfair negative attitude held by people towards others because of a difference such as living with mental health conditions. It is often caused by people having lack of proper knowledge about the issue and sometimes fear associated with misinformation. This can lead to people with mental health conditions being treated differently, being seen as abnormal and worthless and being excluded from society. This can then lead to the person who has a condition feeling shame, sometimes making their mental health worse. It can prevent people with mental health conditions from getting help, being involved in society, and leading happy lives.

How do I ask for help?

Asking for help can feel scary or hard, but getting help from other people can positively change your life. When you need:

  • Comfort or encouragement, try talking to a friend or family member who you trust 🫂
  • Advice, ask an adult you trust like a parent, family member, older friend, or teacher 👩‍🏫👨‍🏫
  • Help, if you can, talk to someone in your community like a counselor, health care worker, or community leader. If this is challenging, try talking first to someone you trust, like maybe a teacher or family member, who can help you reach out for help.📲 You may even find an available helpline that you can call or reach online. Find local resources.
  • New ideas, interact with other young people who might be going through similar situations🧍‍♀️🧍‍♂️

If you are struggling and don’t know what to say or how to ask for help, try these:

  • When you don’t know what you need: “I’m feeling ___________. I’m not sure what to ask for, but I think I need some support. Are you free to talk (day/time)?” 🫂
  • When you feel stuck: “I’m struggling. Can we (meet up/talk)? I’d love your help in thinking about some ideas and making a plan.” 💯
  • When you don’t want to talk about it: “I’m in a bad place but I’m also not ready to talk about it. I’d love to chat/do an activity together to distract me.” 🧘‍♂️🧘‍♀️
  • When you need to feel connected: “Can you call or message me (on date/every day) to make sure I’m doing OK?”💻📲

My friend or family member will not accept help, what do I do?

If your friend won't accept help from you or the people around them, it can be upsetting, annoying and can make you feel powerless. But try and remember there's only so much you can do. 

  • Give them time - they might not be ready to open up right now and need more time 
  • Let them know you're there for them if they ever want to talk, or just hang out 
  • Be prepared. Gather information about the help that's available. When your friend or family is ready to talk, you'll be ready to help.