“Conversations about mental health have the power to change lives”
- 1 in 6 adults have experienced a ‘common mental disorder’ like depression or anxiety.1
- 2.0 million adults and 0.8 million children accessed NHS mental health, learning disability and autism services in 2020/212
- Around 1 in 6 children aged 6 to 16 has at least one probable mental health problem in 2021, up from 1 in 9 in 2017.2
- Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It can affect how we think, feel, and act.
Mind and Rethink Mental Illness run the Time to Talk Day for England. The event was launched in 2014 by Time to Change, a campaign to end mental health stigma and discrimination. Scotland, Wales, and Ireland are all involved in the UK wide campaign with different lead organisations (Scottish Association for Mental Health and See Me in Scotland, Inspire and Change Your Mind in Northern Ireland and Time to Change Wales).
The day promotes starting supportive conversations to reduce stigma and increase the likelihood of people reaching out for help when they need it.
It might not always feel easy to know how to talk about mental health but remember, you don’t need to be an expert or fix anything in these conversations, the most important thing is to getting talking and listening.
The following tips can help make sure you approach mental health conversations in a supportive way:
Ask questions and listen
Give people space to express their thoughts and feelings by asking open questions. Listen without displaying judgement and engage with the discussion.
Example: “How does that impact you?”
Multi-task the conversation with an activity
Talking about mental health can often feel vulnerable. Having a talk whilst doing an activity can help the conversation flow and feel less overwhelming.
Example: Walk, tea, lunch, craft activity, offer to help with the day-to-day tasks, send them a check-in text to let them know you’re thinking of them.
Ask twice and have patience
“How are you?” is often used as polite small talk. Asking twice affirms you are not just going through the motions and makes it clear you are ready and willing to listen with the mental space to do so.
Don’t try and fix it
Treat them same
The stigma around mental health can be scary to deal with it. Reassure the person you are there to support them without judgement.
Not everyone is ready to talk openly about their experiences. Focus on creating a supportive environment that is there for if/when they wish to talk. It can be helpful to set expectations by asking the person ‘do you need me to listen or do you need me to help you figure out the next steps?’
Learn more about Time to talk day – About – Time To Talk Day
This article was written by Megan Siarey. You can find similar posts like this at talksbymegan.co.uk and across Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn under the username @talksbymegan