Monday, 4 Dec 2023

1 in 4 young women are uncomfortable sharing how they really feel – here’s why that’s a problem

New research, commissioned ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September, shows that women between the ages of 25 and 34 are least likely to share how they’re really feeling inside with friends and family. 

Talking about how we’re really feeling may not be a replacement for therapy or professional support, but it certainly helps. Feeling anxious or depressed can be an incredibly isolating experience, and sharing what you’re going through with those around you can help to lift some of the weight off your shoulders.

There’s a reason why the saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ has stood the test of time – after all, by articulating how you’re feeling and putting your mental state into words, you not only feel less alone but you also provide your family and friends with the opportunity to help you cope.

But despite this, many people struggle to open up – even with the people they’re closest to. Indeed, according to new research from the suicide prevention charity If U Care Share, almost a quarter of people in the UK would not tell the truth if a friend or family member asked them if they were feeling down. 

The survey – which was made up of responses from 1,000 UK adults between the ages of 18 and 65 – also found that 30% would only answer honestly ‘sometimes’.  

And despite the common belief that women tend to be more open about their emotions, the study found that women aged 25-34 were most likely to keep how they really feel on the inside, with 30% of those surveyed saying they wouldn’t tell their friends and family about what’s going on, and an additional 33% revealing that they would only open up on occasion.  

Sharing how you really feel can help you feel less alone.

The second-worst-affected group was men aged 18-24 – something that’s particularly concerning when you consider that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 in the UK. 

In this group, 27% of those surveyed said they’d never open up, with 30% saying they would sometimes – meaning that over half avoided telling the truth most of the time.

It’s undeniable that mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety are less stigmatised now than they were five or 10 years ago, but this research paints a stark picture of how big an impact this shift has had on our ability to talk openly.  

Proper investment in mental health services is desperately needed if we want to make a real difference to the lives of those affected by mental illness – but being able to talk freely about how we’re feeling is also incredibly important to ensuring that nobody feels alone in their fight.

Feeling anxious, depressed or lonely isn’t something to be ashamed of – and the more we talk, the more we’ll be able to help each other get the support and advice we need.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with their mental health, you can find support and resources on the mental health charity Mind’s website and NHS Every Mind Matters or access the NHS’ list of mental health helplines and organisations here.

Additionally, you can ask your GP for a referral to NHS Talking Therapies, or you can self-refer.

For confidential support, you can also call the Samaritans in the UK on 116 123 or email [email protected]. In an emergency, call 999. 

Images: Getty

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