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: How much of an effect does mindfulness have on people’s mental health?
A: That’s a very difficult question to answer as I believe different techniques work at different levels for individual people. However, scientists have proven that mindfulness is effective in relieving stress and improving sleep, as well as improving some physical health difficulties such as lowering blood pressure. These improvements will all contribute to improving one’s mental health. However, having said that, not everyone will find the mindfulness techniques therapeutic. But realistically mindfulness is taking time to bring yourself into the here and now, and that can be achieved by anything that one finds therapeutic. So, in a nutshell, it seems that mindfulness is as effective as we make it?
Q: How do I help a friend who is self-harming?
A: Firstly, if you are aware of the severity of the self-harm and are concerned for this person’s safety, I believe it is important that you inform a responsible person e.g. a tutor, student services body, or a family member. However, when it comes to supporting someone who is self-harming, I think a non-judgmental, caring, and patient approach is appropriate. It is important to try and educate yourself on self-harm if you haven’t done so already, many people have preconceived negative attitudes towards self-harm and it’s very important that these do not impose on the support you are giving your friend.
Q: What is the worst thing to ask someone who is suffering from poor mental health?
A: I don’t think there is a bad thing to ask someone, apart from the obvious. Mental health can be a difficult and sensitive topic to discuss, so as long as you approach the person in a friendly and non-judgmental or prying manner then you should be ok. There are many myths about asking people the wrong questions and whether this will make their mental health difficulty worse, but this is the classic stigma situation – we should be encouraging people to discuss their mental health, not hiding away from it!
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.