People who have struggled with their mental health may hold the key to helping us all

Chris Martin (he/him)
Chief Executive Officer

People who have struggled with their mental health may hold the key to helping us all

Today is World Mental Health Day. As part of the Heads Together campaign led by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, The Mix and our corporate partner Dixons Carphone will be calling on people across the UK to thank those closest to them who have provided mental health first aid when they really needed it.

One of the things we learn as we get older is that we all experience difficult times in our lives that put pressure on our mental health. Knowing this it seems sensible that we should approach our mental health in the same practical way that we work on our physical health. All well in theory but how do we help ourselves when we feel alone and unable to cope?

At The Mix, we speak to young people who are struggling with their mental health every day through our digital, social and helpline services. The transitions that mark the journey into adulthood present many distinct challenges that can be both exciting and overwhelming. Key life events like exams, going to college, moving out of home or starting work are all plied on top of a search for identity can become overwhelming for young adults. Furthermore, it can be hard to keep perspective when friends and celebrities on social media seem to be living effortless, wonderful lives.

For the young people who visit The Mix talking to others seems to be the key to surviving these events. Sometimes these conversations need to be with a professional but in many cases their peers can make all the difference. You might ask yourself what does another young person have to offer that a trained counsellor does not. The answer is simple – they have been through what you are experiencing.

A recent study by the University of Texas shows the power of this. At the beginning of the school year, a group of students undertook an exercise designed to help them manage stress and change.

The students read articles about brain science to understand how people change over time. They then read anecdotes written by older students about how they had survived the challenges of high school and how they were eventually able to move on. Finally, the students themselves wrote encouraging advice to younger students.

Those who completed the exercise showed lower levels of stress, reported more confidence in coping and did better academically. This experiment was repeated in five other schools. In one study, the prevalence of depression reported by those taking part was 40 percent lower than in a control group.

In The Mix’s online communities young people share this kind of support with their peers for free. 84% of those who feel The Mix has helped them proactively want to give something back. They share their stories of their tough times, offer advice and show the kind of understanding that only someone who knows exactly how you are feeling can. It is hugely powerful.

It is also a lesson to us all. The key to coping with life’s challenges may lie in sharing our problems with others be they our friends, peers met online, family or work colleagues. I hope you will join us today in thank them all for being there when we needed them most.

To get involved in our World Mental Health Day (#WMHD16) celebrations, and thank someone who has helped you when times were tough, visit thereforme.org – and share your appreciation for those people helping us and others.

If you feel inspired by the work The Mix is doing to support young people, you can also donate to our cause. You’ll be helping us raise vital funds to support those struggling with their mental health.

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Published on 10-Oct-2016