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