@Rogue Debby CIC

Peer Support for the mental & physical symptoms in chronic illness

Checking in on friends

Tips for talking about mental health

These top tips are from the mental health organisation ‘Time to Change‘ my favourite, and the one I use most with my friends is number 3 – Be Patient – don’t give up.

We know that opening up to mental health is not always easy. Doing small things can make a big difference for a friend, relative, colleague who is struggling – and for ourselves.

You might have noticed signs and behaviours which make you worried. They might seem distracted or absent, or you might not have heard from them in a while. It could be nothing, but it might be a sign that they’re not well.

5 Tips for supporting someone

1. Start a conversation

If you’re concerned about someone, the first thing to do is to check in. It can be as simple as a text: just make sure they know you really want to know how they’re doing.

2. Listen and reflect

Give the person space to explain what they’re going through. Try not to make any assumptions about their experience based on other things you’ve seen and read. Asking open questions can be helpful: these are questions that invite people to expand, rather than respond with just ‘yes’ or no. Examples of open questions include:
“How have you been feeling?”
“What’s that like for you?”

3. Be patient

It might take a while for the person to feel comfortable talking about what they’re going through, or there might be periods where they’re less communicative. That’s understandable: sometimes, if you’re experiencing a mental health problem, it’s harder to be sociable.  

It might feel frustrating if you’re putting in effort, but try and be patient. They probably appreciate you being in touch even if they’re not responding. 

4. Be yourself

Even if they’re having a hard time, they’re still the same person you know and love. Don’t treat them differently – keep including them in social activities and offer to do the things you’d normally do with them.

5. Ask how you can help

Give them space to say what they need from you. This might be a regular check-in, a particular activity, or help with practical things. Mental health problems can be draining, so they might be finding it hard to keep up with everyday tasks. If it seems appropriate, anything you can help with.

Image of MIND logo

For more information, our friends at Mind have lots of information about helping someone else.

For me personally, I know many of my friends and myself as well, are not always up to explaining anything - I don't always send a message with words - just emojis - I'll just send 3 'kiss' emojis or 'thumbs-up' emojis - sometimes the right emotive gif is more appropriate. This way my friends know I am thinking of them and am here for them, they don't need to explain everything to me, but they know I'm here in the background.

Mental Health issues can be very isolating, so don't stop inviting us to things just because we are ill - but remember - sometimes we may need the environment to be different to our previous norm.

Find what works for you and your friends – Time to Change has some very good ideas and perspectives on their site – you’re bound to find something that works for most situations…

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