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Why don't you speak up?

How often do we hear that someone has been struggling with their mental health and think, why didn't they speak up? That however is the wrong question. What we should be asking why couldn't they speak up. It changes the emphasis and takes away the blame. Everyone struggling is aware that they should speak up, that they are somehow to blame for the condition. The onus is on them and it is yet another thing they have failed at. Instead we must create a society that enables people to speak up. That we create a safe environment for those struggling and we ask others they are ok instead of waiting.

So why are we so slow to ask if people are ok? Firstly it's embarrassing to walk up to a stranger we might be worried about, or even friends or colleagues. What if there is nothing wrong? What if we are told to mind our own business, or even worse what if something is wrong? No, someone else will ask. If there was something wrong they would say something. It is not really my place. So we let it go. We might think about our decision over a day or two, then convince ourselves they are ok. The next time we see them they might appear back to normal - thank goodness for that. We then ask how they are, they say fine and we leave it at that, relieved.

So who does that person having a bad day, month, year speak to? They can't approach a stranger. A colleague might laugh, tell them to deal with it. Work might judge them, end their career or worse put them out of a job. Their partner? How could they do that to someone they love. They will be devastated. They can't say anything to the children. Friends don't want to hear them complaining, they have their own problems. If they go to the doctor work will find out, their partner will be let down. Instead they become experts at hiding their feelings, hoping things will just get better. So back to the original question, why don't we speak up instead of waiting?

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