This week the world was shocked and saddened by the news of the death of Robin Williams. Hugely talented, his career spanned four decades and he connected with all ages using brilliant humour. In interviews he always appeared genuine and down-to-earth.
When it was announced that he had taken his own life many of us were stunned. The old adage of 'the tears of a clown' couldn't be more salient. Robin spoke openly about his battle with mental health which caused addictions to alcohol and drugs. With this at the forefront of the news I was invited to talk about the strong connection between humour, laughter, comedy and mental health on radio stations and TV.
Robin's death highlights the way mental health can effect everyone and anyone and how important it is to recognise how we can help people in as many different ways as possible to hopefully prevent tragic circumstances.
Humour is a great tool and can be used to find a different way of looking at life - many comedians do this. Whatever works for the individual has to be right and if we can learn one thing from this tragedy it's to look out for signs, even in the liveliest and brightest of people. If you identify signs that someone you know is struggling, talk to them, offer then numbers to call, tools to use, whatever you can.
You can't see mental health illness, it's not like a broken bone or a cyst, it can only be detected when spotted through signs or talked about. If you or someone your know feel like talking to someone then there are people who listen. There's lots of help out there. http://www.mind.org.uk/ or call 0300 123 3393 or TEXT 86463