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World Mental Health Day 2022

By our Disability & Wellbeing Advisor

How are you feeling? Fine? You sure? I know it can be hard to find the words to express how we really feel and we’re conditioned to give a short and sweet answer but “I’m fine” rarely cuts it. In fact, research by The Mental Health Foundation found that adults say “I’m fine” about 14 times a week, but only 19% will actually mean it. That’s a whole lot of faking.

So why do we do it? Context is key – sometimes people are just being polite. Coming from Yorkshire, I genuinely believed that when people asked, they wanted to know. I’m partly why 44% of those questioned regretted asking somebody how they were after receiving an answer they weren’t prepared for. Sorry about that.

Often it’s just easier and it’s not always the time or place for a lengthy chat. But this still leaves a lot of people saying it to minimize their feelings, avoid conflict, avoid causing worry, and avoiding shame.

Why do we need to express our feelings?

Does it matter? Is it worth bothering to break social niceties and risk vulnerability? Well, yes. Those two small everyday words have a big impact on you and those around you.

Suppressing feelings is never a successful long-term strategy and can significantly impact your physical and emotional health. You can pretend you don’t have negative feelings for a while but that doesn’t eradicate them. It actually does the opposite and intensifies them, preventing authentic communication with the people that matter and causing resentment to spiral.

Think you’re fooling your nearest and dearest with an “I’m fine. Nothing’s wrong”? We all know when a loved one’s not fine. Insisting otherwise can be frustrating for them and may lead to a lack of trust, paranoia and worry.

On a larger scale, if we can’t even be honest with ourselves and the people we love about how we really feel, how can we expect to live in a stigma-free society where people can talk honestly about their feelings? Men in particular often struggle with this with 22% regularly lying about how they feel, compared to 10% of women.

Remember that whilst you’re not the only one struggling with issues, you are the only one who can start to change your reality.

How can I express my feelings?

This year we have teamed with Togetherall to provide our students and staff a safe and supportive online platform to share feelings and connect with others. There are trained professionals on hand 24/7 and multiple resources and assessments to provide guidance.

  • Start by being honest with yourself. Don’t judge as all feelings are valid and can bring valuable insights
  • Find someone safe to be more authentic with. You could start online, for example, with Togetherall
  • Sharing feelings can be difficult, so check you have the right person to support you
  • Accept yourself, flaws and all. This is linked to feeling happier and more content.