1 in 4 people experience Mental Health issues every year. Yet many don’t get the help and support they need as they are too afraid to speak out. Today is ‘Time to Talk day.’ A day designed to encourage people to speak out and end the discrimination associated with mental health issues.
No one should have to fear being treated differently because of a mental health problem.
But where do you start when speaking to someone about Mental Health issues? The first thing to remember is that there is no right place to start a conversation. You can talk about mental health anywhere, at home, at work, even up a mountain. As long as the conversation is safe and discreet you really can talk anywhere!
Whether you would like to open up to others about your own mental illness, or support someone you know, here are the top 5 tops for starting a conversation according to Time to Change
1. Start small
Many people find talking in person intimidating, and that’s understandable. But it doesn’t need to stop you from starting a conversation altogether. You could make a quick phone call, send your best mate a text, or leave a note for a parent.
“It is not the massive gestures or the giant paragraphs that have made the biggest difference, but the little things. It doesn’t take long to send a quick text, but the impact it has is huge. A text from a friend reinforced how I wasn’t alone.”
2. Find a good time & place
Sometimes it’s easier to talk side by side rather than face to face. So, if you do talk in person, you might want to chat while you are doing something else. You could start a conversation when you’re walking, cooking or stuck in traffic.
“Walking together or sitting driving are both amazing, because the experience of talking to someone whilst you’re side by side can be so much more freeing and less daunting than face to face. The changing scenery helps too.”
3. Ask questions (gently!)
There are lots of misconceptions around mental illness. That means asking questions can be an important way of learning. Just remember not to get too personal, and be aware if the discussion is making someone feel uncomfortable.
“It is far better to ask people the questions you have outright rather than assuming things. People with a mental health condition can always tell you politely if you’re wrong. If you ask a stupid question, then you can both can laugh later together.”
4. Be open
“It doesn’t have to be anything major – but being a bit more open about things, especially as a man, can often encourage a good friend to do the same.”
5. Treat them the same
When someone is diagnosed with a mental illness, they’re still the same person as they were before. And that means when a friend or loved one opens up about mental health, they don’t want to be treated any differently. If you want to support them, keep it simple. Do the things you’d normally do.
There is a real chance now for all of us to be more open about mental health – to talk, to listen, to change lives. Looking for a way to start a conversation? Have a look at Time to Change’s Tips for Talking today and together we will end the stigma associated with Mental Health.
Click here for downloadable resources for your workplace.