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It is always important to remember that people living with mental health issues need empathy and professional support. However, mental health problems are an illness and, like other illnesses, they can make the person a risk to those who love them or encounter them in everyday life. People struggling with their mental health need kindness, help and protection. So do those around them but too often they are overlooked.

It is easy to forget trauma, childhood experiences and many other things could be in part responsible for someone’s addiction or other mental health issues. Remember: nobody chooses to be mentally unwell in the same way that nobody chooses to have a physical illness.

Be kind and remember that those around you can be battling mental health problems. But the struggle of those close to them is all too often forgotten.

No child starts out wanting to live on the street looking for the next fix. Never forget, as you walk by that homeless person, “there but for the grace of God go I.”  Remind yourself that that person is someone’s child and a human being who was once full of hope, dreams and optimism.


Yes, some people with addiction can find themselves staying up all night taking drugs and getting into a car to get more. Their addiction can be so strong that they don’t think about whether they might hurt someone who happens to encounter them.

Then again, there are those that are just simply selfish and play the mental health card to cover wrongdoings. For example, it can be argued that someone full of alcohol and drugs who gets behind the wheel at six in the morning looking for more cocaine is far from mentally competent .

Either way, we need protecting from those that take such actions and they need help. But let’s be aware of the effect this has on those children and loved ones who may be waiting at home. They too need our kindness.

A fickle mistress.

A desire for fame can be deeply unhealthy, and once fame is handed to people it often becomes a fickle mistress that can make for a bad dance partner. There is no handbook for fame. In many people it can feed addiction and play havoc with their mental health, unless they are very grounded. It hits at the very core of so many issues in peoples’ minds – the “Ego”. It can lead not just the famous but so many others down a very dark path. Fear of rejection is just one Ego’s talons 

So yes, be kind and remember that those around you can be battling mental health problems. But the struggle of those close to them is all too often forgotten.

Today’s child watching their parent deal with alcoholism could repeat that behaviour in years to come and how we deal with our troubled friends can have consequences not just for them, but for all that live in their orbit, including their children. We need to strike a balance: by all means be kind, but do not become an enabler or a soft touch.

Meet the therapist specialising in LGBT mental health here.

Finding it hard to cope. Help is out there. Visit SOS Silence of Suicide for support.

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Steven Smith

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