Today is ‘Time to Talk Day’ which is set up by time to change who are trying to end mental health discrimination. Talking is an important part of keeping your mind healthy as well as being a source of help in dealing with mental health problems. Even though more people are speaking out about mental health, there is still a stigma that surrounds mental illness. This often stops people from getting the help that they need as people can feel isolated and ashamed when it comes to their own mental health. As mental health problems affect one in four of us, it is highly likely that someone you know will be going through problems that you are unaware of. If you are currently sat in the office or in a room full of people would you be able to tell who was in that situation?
The answer is that unless they have told you, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell. You can get very good at hiding how you feel when you are struggling as you don’t want to bring anyone else down with you. That doesn’t mean that they don’t want to talk about it with someone, they might just be finding it hard to bring up the subject or are worried about the reaction that it will get.
Mental health can be difficult to talk about and if you are worrying about saying the wrong thing, here are some tips to help you get started:
Ask questions and then listen
This can give the person the opportunity to try and express how they feel and what they are going through. From this you can get a better understanding of their situation. Try to avoid leading questions or judgement and try to keep your questions open so that they can try to explain how it has been affecting them
Think about where and when
You don’t want it to seem like you are interviewing them so why not try sitting side by side rather than facing each other over a table. If you are talking in person, break the ice by talking about something else first so that the conversation is flowing. The venue can also help as somewhere away from people you both know may help them let their feelings out. Even if you can’t find the perfect time and place, starting the conversation is the most important thing
Don’t think that you have to have all the solutions
It can be easy when someone is struggling to offer ideas on how they can fix what they are going through. Managing or recovering from a mental health problem can take time and trying different things before you find the one that works for you. Talking about it can be the important first step to getting the help they need so you don’t have to provide all the answers as just listening will help
They are the same person as they were before
After someone opens up about their mental health, they are still the same person they were before. They don’t want to be treated any differently and just need your support so just treat them like you did before they told you
People will generally talk when they are ready. Even if you think someone is going through issues, they might not be ready to share them with you so if you have asked and they don’t want to talk about it, try not to push it. It’s ok to not want to talk about it and the fact that you have tried to talk to them will help them feel less isolated and will make it easier for them when they are ready to talk. Even if you’re not talking about it, you can keep doing what you normally do, check in with them by text to let them know you are thinking of them or by offering to help with some of the day to day things like shopping or cooking
People will often say that they are fine even when they’re not so if you notice any changes in one of your friends, it can be worth asking the question twice. One of the best things you can do is being there for a friend when they need you and asking again can let them know that you care.
If you find that one of your friends is struggling and you want to support them, there are lots of great resources on-line such as the ones below that can help you give them the help they need:
Mental health affects far more people than anyone realises. It is a hidden disease that doesn’t discriminate as it can affect anyone, any sex, any race, any religion, rich or poor. It is a misunderstood disease that can take many forms and can strike at any time. Help us try to bring it out into the open and get people talking about it. Together we can break the stigma and make a difference.