Let’s Talk about Mental Health: 5 tips on creating constructive conversation around mental health!
We understand that talking to someone about mental illness can be difficult. Would asking too many questions be too forward? What if you accidentally said the ‘wrong thing’? How could you comfort your friend or family member? These might be some of the questions that come to mind when talking about mental health. Here are five suggestions that will hopefully aid your conversation on mental health!
Don’t be afraid to offer companionship and comfort. Taking the simple initiative to ask if someone would like to share what they’re going through can go a long way. Helping to calm and assure someone, or offering a listening ear can really help someone through a mental health breakdown or struggle.
2)Don’t be dismissive
‘I’m sure you’ll get over it’, ‘There’s nothing to worry about’ – these are just some examples of (unintentionally) dismissive assurances that trivialise the enormity of what someone might be going through. Vocalising one’s feelings or talking about mental illness can already be a daunting affair for some, so choosing to dismiss mental illness as just ‘a bad day’ can be discouraging and even destructive for recovery. Instead, focus on offering an attentive listening ear, and don’t feel like you have to offer advice.
3)Be constructive and helpful
Do your research and kindly recommend appropriate mental health resources (IF ASKED!). Mental health matters, and seeking help for mental illness ought to be normalised. Navigating mental illness alongside daily life can be tiring and confusing, so gently offering to connect someone with professional psychiatric help can help someone take the first step towards recovery. Especially in instances where you feel someone might be going through a serious mental health crisis, being able to refer them to well established mental health resources could play a pivotal role in helping someone get through a rough mental health episode.
4)Openness is key
Always remember that kindness and acceptance are key. Don’t antagonise or blame someone for their mental illness. Seeking help and embarking on a journey to better understand one’s mental condition is extremely challenging, so make sure you offer non-judgmental support so your friend or family member knows you are there for them when they need it.
5)Don’t be afraid to talk about mental illness!
Instead of treating mental illness as a taboo, seek to create an honest and respectful conversation. This can play a huge part in helping people with mental health issues feel less alienated. Additionally, don’t hesitate to reaffirm your support and belief in someone struggling with mental health issues. Simple assurances like ‘I believe in you’ or ‘you are strong enough to get through this’ can serve as powerful reminders of the progress in one’s mental health journey.
Most of all, remember that 'Mental Health Matters'! Taking the first step to help create gentle and honest conversation on mental health can go a long, long way.