Talking About Mental Health
It’s Time to Talk
Mental health problems are common. One in four of us will be affected at some point in our lives. So being able to talk about mental health is something that’s important for us all.
And often the fact that it’s difficult to talk about mental health problems can be one of the hardest parts of having a mental illness. Whether it’s fear or awkwardness about talking to someone we know about their mental health problem – or talking about our own mental health problem, reluctance to talk about mental health isn’t good for anyone. A few small words can make a big difference. Don’t be afraid to talk about mental health.
You don’t need to be an expert on mental health to be a friend. It’s often the everyday things that make a difference – here are some pointers to start talking…
Take the lead: If you know someone has been unwell, don’t be afraid to ask how they are.
Avoid clichés: Phrases like ‘Cheer up’, ‘I’m sure it’ll pass,’ ‘Pull yourself together’ definitely won’t help the conversation! Being open minded, non-judgemental and listening will.
Ask how you can help: People will want support at different times in different ways, so ask how you can help.
Don’t avoid the issue: If someone comes to you to talk, don’t brush it off because this can be a hard step to take. Acknowledge their illness and let them know that you’re there for them.
Stay in touch: Actions are important too so stay in touch with a text, email or postcard and let someone know you are thinking about them
If you feel ready to talk about your mental health problem, here are a few points to help you out…
Be prepared: Think about the different reactions, positive and negative, that the person might have so you’re prepared.
Choose a good time: Choose a time and place where you feel comfortable and ready to talk.
Be ready for lots of questions…or none: The person you are talking to might have lots of questions.
Or they might feel uncomfortable and try to move the conversation on – if this happens it’s still helpful that the first step has been taken.
Have some information ready: Sometimes it’s easier for people to find out more in their own time – so it might be useful to have some information to hand.
Take up opportunities to talk: If someone asks you about your mental health, don’t shy away, be yourself and answer honestly.
Courage is contagious: Often, once mental health is out in the open people want to talk. Don’t be surprised if your honesty encourages other people to talk about their own experiences.
Go to time-to-change.org.uk to:
- Get further tips on talking about mental health.
- Watch people talking about their experiences.
- Find out about events happening near you.
- Share Time to Change with your friends and family.