British nature doesn't help our mental health.
We often don't know how to talk about mental health in the way that we may about someone's physical health. We may feel rude and think that we are 'prying' into something that we feel is too personal.
One aspect of British nature that is most unhelpful is when we say 'hey, how are you?'
We use this as a greeting and it always seems that we automatically say 'I'm fine thank you'.
But what if that person we are asking isn't actually fine?
Many of us say 'how are you?' as we pass someone in the corridor or as we enter a room. I don't think that many of us expect an accurate answer to the question but perhaps we feel that we have done something by giving that person an opportunity to speak to us.
If someone isn't well mentally, they need you to try harder. On our worst days we often answer 'I'm fine, how are you?' out of politeness, when actually we are screaming inside 'please ask me again so I have someone to talk to'.
Instead, it might be better to ask 'How are you feeling today?' If you know that that person is currently struggling, then help them to speak out. They need you to reach out for them. It is very difficult for them to do this without you.
Sometimes mental illness acts like a gag, stopping us from both interacting or speaking out to others despite needing to.
Offer that person the opportunity to talk to you. Sit down, give them time, use open body language and ask, 'How are you feeling today?'
You may make a real difference to their day.