Got a burning question about mental health difficulties? Want non-professional, peer-to-peer advice? Look no further, this feature will appear every month and invites readers to send in questions regarding mental health for tips and advice*. My name is Leanne and I have both specialist training and personal experience in mental health and will aim to provide user-friendly, non-professional advice to anyone who asks for it!
Q. What do you find helps to ease anxiety before exams?
A. I find that using calming techniques such as calm breathing can help in those minutes before an examination. I also find that the more prepared I am the less my anxiety kicks up, this may be because in a sense I am starving it of worries to cling onto. I also would always advise talking to your tutor’s or anyone else about any anxieties you have regarding the exam.
Q. How long should I wait before accessing professional help?
A. This is a hard question to answer in general terms. I believe this is individual per person, per mental health difficulty. I guess if I was to generalise the answer it would be as soon as you recognise the problem is becoming unmanageable. It’s important to highlight that not everyone needs professional help, but it can be very beneficial for others who may need that bit of extra support.
Q. Can my anxiety come and go?
A. Yes. There are different types of anxiety disorders and research says that Generalised Anxiety Disorder is what some people call “free-floating” which basically means it can come and go. And I think one of the worst things about this is that it can do this for no such apparent reason. From personal experience anxiety can manifest itself in all of us, due to stress, worry and fear of things in life. Likewise, these stressors can come and go, and therefore so does our anxiety!
Q. I’m worried about my friend’s mental health, should I approach it with them?
A. Here’s my opinion, yes. However, you don’t necessarily have to be the person to approach them. I believe that if someone had approached me about my depression and anxiety sooner it may not have escalated to the level it did. Although, taking that into consideration, it is also important to think about who is the most appropriate person for that individual and whether you believe this intervention will benefit them. Another thing to highlight is that for some people reaching out is one of the hardest things to do, but by offering a helping hand you aid them in bridging this gap!
Q. Did you feel better after sharing your mental health difficulty?
A. Yes! This is huge! What’s that phrase people use? “A worry shared is a worry halved” When I was comfortable with discussing my mental health difficulties I found an almost closure feeling, or, that a weight was lifted off my shoulders. It was like it wasn’t just my ‘problem’, it was something that I could share and discuss with others which enabled me to sometimes rationalise my worries or elevate my mood. If all of us discussed our mental health difficulties, there wouldn’t be the breeding ground for stigma. Did you know mental health difficulties are as prolific as cancer, yet for some reason we don’t discuss mental health. By talking about our experiences, we are ‘normalising’ what people refrain from voicing.
How to ask:
Please send your questions to: [email protected]
*Please note not all questions will be answered, and all will be posted anonymously. If you are seeking urgent or professional advice, please see our contact list at the end of this sub-section.