25% of my friends have a mental health issue (statistically)
I’ve got 186 friends on Facebook.
Statistically speaking, that means 46 of them have suffered mental health problems in the last 12 months.
I don’t know if this figure is accurate, but according to the mental health charity Mind one in four people will experience a mental health problem every year.
Armed with this statistic, I scrolled down my list of friends to see which ones I knew had suffered mental health issues.
One of my pals recently asked me to share a post raising awareness of depression in men (which I still haven’t done) and the wife of a former cricket team-mate has shared messages in the past about anxiety attacks.
Meanwhile entrepreneur Vikas Shah has spoken about his battle with depression, while I have concerns two of my other friends may have had problems.
At first glance, only five of my Facebook friends (less than three per cent) may have suffered from mental health issues – way less than the national average.
Of course, there is another explanation which is far more likely.
My friends are representative of society, and if they have mental health problems they probably don’t talk about it.
A more sobering conclusion is that I, as a so-called friend, haven’t made enough effort to find out if they’re struggling.
I was thinking about this because BusinessCloud has joined forces with business psychology firm Carter Corson to hold an event about mental health in business on July 3 (more info).
It was prompted by an interview I did with Sam Jones, co-founder and managing director of Tunafish, about his anxiety attacks.
Brave Sam Jones of Tunafish
He’ll be joined by my Facebook friend Vikas, who will speak about his own battle with depression.
Fairly soon after the event I was approached by entrepreneur Mylo Kaye, CEO of Dreamr, who described how he spiralled into a “dark, cold place that I once called hell” after the sudden death of his uncle.
I was then contacted by Laura Wolfe, managing director of events business Wolfe, who suffered post-natal depression after the birth of her son Sami.
She offered to share her story.
Then I was introduced to James Routledge, founder of Sanctus, who suffered anxiety attacks and is helping businesses and teams talk about mental health.
Now he’s speaking at the event at KPMG in Manchester.
In total we have nine speakers despite the fact we’ve barely approached anyone.
Not all the speakers have had mental health problems but they can offer an insight and hopefully some help.
One of the other speakers is Tom New, co-founder and CPO of Nudgr / Formisimo, who wrote a really interesting blog on mental health problems in 242 entrepreneurs.
A staggering 49 per cent of them reported having a mental health condition.
Facebook friend Vikas Shah will speak about his own battle with depression
Tom wrote: “Throughout the course of launching Formisimo, I’ve met dozens of founders. Many of whom have become firm friends.
"Without fail they all deal with a huge amount of stress and pressure, and many suffer from depression and anxiety.
"Night terrors, the shakes, panic attacks, feelings of being an imposter, wildly out of their depth, terrified of failure, chronically depressed.
"Mental health issues are cruel, dark, and can be deadly… Why have I met so many founders who are battling anxiety and depression?”
It’s a brilliant article and one that you can read here.
So what’s the lesson of this story?
The truth is that mental health is a much bigger problem than we care to admit.
There’s still a stigma around it and that’s part of the problem.
I don’t know how many of my friends – on Facebook or otherwise – have got mental health problems but if you have please don’t suffer in silence.
It’s time to be a real friend and not just a Facebook friend.