Mental Health Does Not Have A Look
It never ceases to amaze me that very often those leading the public discussion on mental health are not politicians nor clinicians, but rather those who are having mental health difficulties. I read an article today about Amelia Smith, who has taken to social media to show two very different pictures of herself when having suicidal thoughts. One being what most would be considered a “traditional” look of depression, sad and low looking. The other is of her smiling and looking vivacious, but despite appearances she is having suicidal thoughts in that photo as well.
There is much for us who work with people with mental health issues to learn from this. Sometimes, even with the best will in the world, we professionals (therapists and physicians alike) can allow our prejudices and preconceptions get in the way of us doing our jobs to the best of our ability. We must not take things literally at face value and be prepared to dig deeper and ask the difficult questions.
For members of the lay community, there is a lesson here as well. Just because your friend or loved one “looks fine” does not necessarily mean that they are fine. Be bothered ask questions and offer what support you can. Only when people feel supported do they feel safe to say the things that need to be said for their health sake.