Today is known as Time to Talk Day, an annual date in the diary aimed at getting the nation talking about mental health. It is a day that friends, families, communities, and workplaces can come together to talk, listen and change lives.
It’s not always easy to talk about mental health, however, we have put together these simple tips that can help approach the topic, making it easier to help ourselves and those around us.
Active listening – be attentive, listen and ask open non-intrusive questions
Listening is absolutely key, and where possible, ask non-intrusive questions. This will help give the person you are talking to some space to express how they’re feeling and what they’re going through, as well as a way for you to understand their experience better. Questions that aren’t intrusive, leading, or judgmental, work best. Try questions like “how does that affect you?” or “what does it feel like?” to help keep the conversation flowing.
Where and whenever – there are no boundaries to talking
There is a perception that talking about mental health requires a formal, serious setting to be effective. This simply isn’t the case, there are no boundaries about when or where conversations can place. Try not to fixate on finding the ‘perfect’ time or location.
Think longer term – quick fixes mask problems
It can be difficult to see someone you care about having a hard time coping with their mental health – and it’s often easy to try and offer quick fixes or solutions that appease the here and now. Often, working through mental health issues can be a long and personal journey – what’s important is that you lend an ear and create an open and safe space to talk.
Be supportive – remain loyal and caring
It’s important to remember that when you are privy to someone’s mental health problems, you treat them just as you would normally. When someone has a mental health problem, they’re still the same person as they were before, except they have let their guard down and shown vulnerability. Keep things simple, keep routines, and try to act like you normally would towards or around them.
Have patience – it can be a long road
Not everyone is ready to talk about what they are going through. Respecting those boundaries are critical to making sure you don’t make anyone uncomfortable or push them into a position they are not ready to be in. No matter how hard you try, some people might not be ready to talk about what they’re going through. That’s okay – the fact that you’ve tried to talk to them about it may make it easier for them to open another time, and simply let them know that.
There isn’t a one-size fits all approach when it comes to talking and supporting those around you with mental health. If talking is difficult for you are them, there are other ways to show support:
• Buddy up: Find things you can get involved in together – clubs, activities, sports
• It’s the small things: Send a message to let them know you’re thinking of them!
• Offering to help with day-to-day tasks – grocery shop, dog walking
For additional tips, please read Time To Talk’s insightful blog for 5 ways to start a conversation about mental health.
We hope these simple pointers help you spark a meaningful open conversation around yours or a close one’s mental health. Whether at work or in your personal life, we encourage everyone to use today as the perfect time to reach out to or lean on someone.
For more information about mental health and how you can manage please see Mind, the mental health charity – how to seek help and Rethink, mental health charity providing services near you – help in your area.