In today's busy world it is easy to become overwhelmed with the pressures of daily life. Everyone experiences feelings of stress, anxiety, and sadness at times throughout their lives and these feelings usually pass quickly. But for some people, these feelings persist and negatively impact on their mental health and emotional wellbeing.
Most people with mental health issues manage and resolve their symptoms through simple lifestyle changes, or by talking about it to friends and family.
But one of the main challenges for people who experience psychological distress is seeking help because of the stigma associated with it. This stigma often makes it difficult for people experiencing mental health symptoms to talk openly and to seek help.
This is why we have launched a national campaign to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing and to reduce the stigma. The campaign is being run under the theme “Are you OK?', and aims to encourage you to ask this simple question to people who you believe may be experiencing stress or anxiety.
By asking 'Are you OK?', and asking in the right way, you can help to start a conversation with someone who may be finding it difficult to speak openly about their struggles. Experiencing stress, anxiety and other mental health challenges is common and not something that we should be ashamed of. Simply talking about your feelings can help to relieve the pressure and begin the road to recovery.
So, throughout October, let's all make an extra effort to look out for people who may be struggling with the mental health, and ask them 'Are you OK?'
We all struggle with personal difficulties at some stage in our lives; these struggles can disturb our emotional wellbeing and affect our work and relationship with others. Most people will feel low, anxious or stressed at some point in their lives and this is very normal. But it's important to seek help when we need it – and to offer help when we see others struggling. However, if we experience symptoms or changes in behavior for a prolonged period that make daily life challenging, it may be an early sign that something is not right with our health.
Have you noticed that a family member, friend or colleague is behaving differently? Maybe they are quieter, have less patience or seem withdrawn? These changes in behavior, along with those in the full list below, could be signs that they are struggling with their mental health and need help.
If you notice these changes in behavior in someone you know, you can play a part in helping them at this difficult time simply by showing your concern and asking them “Are you OK" .
Asking some if they are OK is not unusual; it's a regular question that we ask each other on a daily basis. But asking some 'Are you OK?' when you already suspect that they are not OK, and that they might be struggling with their mental health, is a little different. In this instance, you are asking them with a direct intention to help them open up and talk to you about the challenges they are experiencing. To do this effectively, and be able to respond appropriately to what their response might be, it is important to think about the following considerations.
1. Ask in the right way
Because being asked 'Are you OK?' is a regular occurrence, it is easy for people to simply reply 'Yes, fine,' and for the conversation to move on. If this is the response you get and you believe it may not be the truth, try reinforcing the question with 'Are you sure?' or expand on it with a specific justification of your concern, such as 'Are you sure, because you've seemed very quiet recently and not like your normal self?'
2. Find the right time to ask
Make sure to ask when you know both yourself and the person you are asking have time to spare. If you ask when the person is rushing to another appointment, they will be unlikely to be comfortable sharing their feelings.
3. Find the right place to ask
Because being asked 'Are you OK?' is a regular occurrence, it is easy for people to simply reply 'Yes, fine,' and for the conversation to move on. If this is People are more likely to give an honest response and open up to you about their problems if you ask them in a quiet place, without other people around.
4. Be prepared with your own responses
The reason you are asking is because you think they may be struggling with stress, anxiety or depression and you believe they need to talk to someone about this. When asked 'Are you OK?' they may say 'No, I'm not.'It is important that you are prepared and know how to respond if they do admit to you that they are experiencing emotional and mental health challenges.
The below tips provide some advice on how to respond.
Mental Health Helpline
In March 2020 a joint initiative between Hamad Medical Corporation and Primary Health Care Corporation led to the launch of a national helpline to provide support for people experiencing stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders.
The helpline is staffed by a team of mental health professionals who provide assessment and support to callers through four main categories: children and parents, adults, older people and frontline healthcare workers.The helpline aims to provide an easily-accessible support line for people in need of professional advice and care.The helpline is available from 8am to 7pm Sundays to Thursdays, and 8am to 3pm on Saturdays.
To access the helpline:
The mental health helpline team speak a range of languages and every effort will be made to enable callers to communicate in their language of choice, where possible.