Why we should all take a moment to walk in someone else’s shoes

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Written by Jodie Woodward a current Health and Social NTU student 

“Life is unpredictable,
it changes with the seasons.
Even your coldest winter,
happens for the best of reasons.
And though it feels eternal,
like all you’ll ever do is freeze.
I promise Spring is coming,
and with it, brand new leaves.”
– Erin Hanson

The start of a new year always brings about a time for reflection. 2019 for me was a rollercoaster, a whirlwind of emotions, a time of very high points and very low points. I’ve felt overwhelmed and truly wistful recently by the amount of people both known to me and throughout the nation who have been struggling silently with life. It’s difficult to understand, without a walk in someone else’s shoes how they could feel at one moment to the next, to see no way back from the edge; but it’s an all too common way to feel.

In 2019 alone, it is believed that as many as one in four adults and one in ten children experience mental illness, a number that evokes a deep anguish from within. A lot of people I know are struggling with their mental health, it doesn’t pick and choose, and it doesn’t discriminate. While it’s true that we all handle and deal with our emotions differently with unique mindsets, nobody should have to suffer alone. We all possess the ability to step forth and assist another person whether that to open up or to simply be there. Life isn’t always simple, navigating the ups and downs can be a real struggle and even taking a moment to listen can elevate someone else’s pain. More people than we realise are suffering or treating their health in private in fear of judgement or being labelled. It is a taboo subject that needs to be challenged and taken seriously.

Its sometimes difficult to emphasise with another when it comes to the subject of mental health, but no matter how that person is dealing with their situation and how difficult you may be finding it to understand, the common factor is that we all need some form of support throughout our lives, support from friends, families, from external services, anybody that can offer that extra support to the battle they are currently facing no matter the size. Be kind, everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

It may seem like such a simple thing to reach out and ask, ‘How are you?’ but how often do we reply with ‘Yes, fine.’ Or ‘Yes, you?” without giving away our true feelings and without a second thought to how the other person truly feels. From an outside perspective, it may seem like it could have very little impact on another, but we should all make a conscious effort to ask a second time. That second attempt could be a gateway for someone else to be honest. Whilst it isn’t a solution to that person’s problems, it is giving them a safe space to be open if they want to be.

There is so much work still left to be done to break the stigma but let’s keep the conversation going, offering your help doesn’t mean the weight of their worries will transfer to you, it can just mean an open and honest conversation, and realising in some cases that help is an option.

For help and advice whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.
Personal Pastoral Support at NTU (general worries and anxiety, homesickness, loneliness, a relationship breakup, or a bereavement)
Support from NTU
Silvercloud: SilverCloud is our online system designed to help with a range of mental health issues.
Depression advice
Wellness in Mind: Advice and support for anyone in Nottingham experiencing issues with their mental wellbeing
Struggling at Uni? Go to Student Minds
10 Keys to happiness

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