Keeping your sunglasses on during conversation.
Asking to move the conversation into the shade.
Changing position to keep you out of direct sun.
Each of these actions may be considered rude in other contexts but they are all accepted tweaks for the comfort of others.
We know that Brisbane summer is bright and hot, so we are generous with one another.
We know that Brisbane winter is bright and hot, so we are generous with one another.
We let people move around at a table, we tolerate squinting and sweating, we give them water and shade when they ask for it.
But when it comes to mental health, we are uncomfortable or forgetful. We are not gracious with one another. We often don’t ask for help, and this is partly because our requests are often treated as surprising or unreasonable.
Try thinking about mental illness like sunlight: it comes and goes, sometimes it’s worse than others, and it’s not under our control. It can be scorching. If someone with mental illness manages to ask for help: please be supportive and make it a safe place. Recovery is hard and we need your support.
Here are some examples from Felicity and Jonathan:
I find it hard to judge how formal my clothing needs to be at parties.
You can detail the dress code in advance.
I find that vase of dice unsettling because it is not ordered.
You can let them order it.
I find salad and stir fry hard because I feel compelled to eat vegetables in order.
You can prepare the food so that vegetables are clumped.
It’s uncomfortable and scary to ask for help. Instead, we can think about people in advance so they don’t even need to ask for help. And when someone does express a need or preference, please be gracious.