As Time to Talk Day approaches in February, we would like to share a few tips which we think would be useful to know when talking to someone about their mental health. 1 in 4 people will experience mental health problems of some kind each year in England and 1 in 6 report experiencing common mental health problems (for example anxiety or depression) each week.
Many people find it difficult to open up about mental health problems. Young people especially struggle on their own due to worries that people might think they’re ‘weird’, not wanting to be treated differently, worries that people might spread rumours or say nasty things, and concerns that people won’t believe them.
Here are some tips to help you start a conversation about mental health
- Empathise – Try to put yourself in their shoes and imagine how you’d feel if you were struggling in the same way. This can help you to understand their feelings a bit more.
- Talk about your own experiences – This can help normalise mental health problems and helps not to make the other person feel like the ‘odd one out’. However, remember not to change the subject and make it all about you, the conversation should be equal.
- Ask Twice – Everyone has said “I’m fine” without actually meaning it. By asking twice, you’re showing the other person that you really are interested in what they have to say and want to make sure they’re alright.
- Take it seriously – A lot of people keep their feelings to themselves in fear of no one believing them and thinking they’re just being dramatic. If someone comes to you and opens up, don’t just brush it off. A loved ones fear can mean nothing to you, but everything to them.
- Just listen – People often worry about what they should and shouldn’t say, and might struggle to find the right words. Showing that you care about what someone has to say is more important that saying anything. Listening and acknowledging is enough.