Time To Talk Day: Start a conversation today
Time To Talk Day is all about creating an opportunity to have a conversation surrounding mental health. Getting the conversation started is often the hardest step and sometimes we find it hard to open up - today is about letting people know it’s okay to do so. We all have mental health and by talking about things we can help ourselves and others.
It may be difficult to know what to say when talking about mental health, but that doesn’t mean we should avoid it. Here are some tips to help you approach and navigate a conversation about mental health.
It doesn’t always have to be face to face
Talking about things in person is good. Reading body language and facial expressions is helpful, and you can offer a hug if they need it however some people find it difficult to open up in person. Using text or other forms of communication can be a lot easier. Dropping a quick message to a friend lets them know you’re there and gives them the opportunity to reply at their own pace.
Just because someone says they’re fine it doesn’t mean they are. Repeating yourself and asking ‘no, really, how are you?’ reminds people that you really do care and even if they don’t want to have a conversation in that moment, they know you’ll listen when they do.
Don’t wait for the perfect moment
Conversations around mental health often seem daunting as people imagine something like a therapy session, sitting opposite someone and being expected to talk. Bringing up the topic of mental health is often easier when you’re doing something. Going for a drive, out for a coffee or staying in and baking or painting together are just a few suggestions. Having something else to do and not feeling pressured to make eye contact or fill any silences can make talking about things a lot easier. A comfortable setting helps the conversation feel less uncomfortable.
It’s equally as good to listen
Talking about things is really helpful, however sometimes all a person needs is someone to listen. Being able to listen to someone and validate their feelings can make a huge difference. Taking the time to sit down, see things from their perspective and empathise with them can make them feel less alone and more understood.
Starting a conversation about mental health is a great thing, but it’s often just the first step. Some people may find it hard to articulate how they’re feeling or struggle to even get the words out. Be patient and understanding whilst they do, the fact that you’re trying may make it easier for them next time. Similarly, people may be reluctant to fully open up at first, it may take time and several conversations, but your patience and reassurance can make it a lot easier.
Talk about yourself
People may feel more comfortable with opening up if you do the same. You may find you have similar feelings, but even if you don’t have experience of a mental health problem, the fact that you are willing to share how you feel can help them feel safe in opening up to you.
Use a reference
It may be easier to talk about how you’re feeling if you can show something that you relate to. This can be a song, a scene from a tv show or film, a poem or something someone else has written or a piece of art. Sometimes it’s a lot easier when there’s a starting point if you’re unsure of how to explain how you feel or want to convey something without saying it out loud.
Its important to keep conversations about mental health going. Since the pandemic, mental health has been talked about more openly and frequently and we should continue to apply that to all areas of mental health. There is still a lot of stigma surrounding certain symptoms and disorders and having conversations can help reduce that.
Being open and talking about mental health with friends and family is helpful however it doesn’t replace seeing a professional. If you find you benefit from talking about things, then you may want to consider therapy.
If you're struggling and need support, below are some services you can use: