5 Tips for Starting a Conversation About Mental Health
It’s a sad fact but only one in three adults in the UK feel that they have someone to talk to. We all face our own problems and being able to voice them is incredibly helpful. Bottling them up, either deliberately or because there doesn’t seem to be anyone to talk to, is detrimental for good mental health. Here are 5 tips for starting a conversation about mental health problems.
The main reasons for not talking is less that there’s no-one around and more about finding the right time or the right place to open the conversation.
Often people wait for the ‘perfect’ time to start. Over 1 in 5 of us find that waiting for the perfect opportunity can take up to year before it arrives. That’s simply too long and gives plenty of time for a problem to escalate.
Time to Talk Day takes place on the first Thursday in February to encourage people to begin conversations about problems and mental health.
I’m writing about it now because it’s important that conversation can and should take place anytime it’s needed. Not just when a campaign reminds you.
Here are 5 tips for starting a conversation about mental health
- Start small
Many people find talking in person intimidating, and that is understandable. But it does not need to stop you from starting a conversation altogether. You could make a quick phone call, send your best mate a text, or leave a note for a parent.
- Time and place
Sometimes it is easier to talk side by side rather than face to face. So, if you do talk in person, you might want to chat while you are doing something else. You could start a conversation when you’re walking, cooking or stuck in traffic.
- Gentle questions
There are lots of misconceptions around mental illness. That means asking questions can be an important way of learning. Just remember not to get too personal, and be aware if the discussion is making someone feel uncomfortable.
- Be open
Being open and honest with others can help to build trust. For example, you might choose to tell your friend something about you that they may not know. Just remember, do not feel pressure to share anything that you are not comfortable with.
- Treat people the same
When someone is diagnosed with a mental illness, they are still the same person as they were before. And that means when a friend or loved one opens up about mental health, they do not want to be treated any differently. If you want to support them, keep it simple. Do the things you would normally do.
As Time to Change campaign director Sue Baker OBE said, “People still think there is no right time or place to talk about mental health – that it’s something that should be whispered about in quiet corners. Conversations have the power to change lives, wherever they take place.”
If you need to talk or if you notice changes in a friend or colleague’s behaviour, these 5 tips for starting a conversation about mental health are a great place to begin.
Take a look around the website whilst you’re here. You might find this page useful next: Cognitive Hypnotherapy
If you’d like to book a free 20-minute consultation by phone to discuss how I can help, follow this link: https://tonyburkinshaw.as.me/