What is Mental Health?
Mental health is the mental and emotional state in which we feel able to cope with the normal stresses of everyday life. The key point to remember is that you don’t have to be an expert to talk about mental health and it’s often the small things you do and say that can make a big difference to someone.
How do you start a conversation about Mental Health?
There are many simple ways you can support someone who has a mental health problem. Simply just asking ‘How are you?’ or sending a text to say hello can be enough but here are a few other helpful tips:
Take the lead: If you know someone has been unwell, don’t be afraid to ask how they are. They might want to talk about it, they might not; but just letting them know that they don’t have to avoid the issue is helpful.
Avoid clichés: Phrases such as ‘cheer up’, ‘I’m sure it’ll pass’ and ‘pull yourself together’ will not help. Try to be open-minded and non-judgemental. You may not always understand how the other person is feeling but listening is the important part.
Think about body language: Try to be relaxed and open. It probably goes without saying that looking shocked or uncomfortable, regular clock watching etc. will not go unnoticed.
Ask how you can help: People will want support at different times in different was so it is key to ask them how you can help.
Don’t just talk about mental health: Having a mental health problem is just one part of the person; people don’t want to be defined by it. Just because the person has a mental health problem does not mean you can’t keep talking about this things you always talked about. Spending the time to talk with the person will let them know that you care and understand what they are going through.
Don’t avoid the issue: If someone comes to you to talk, try not to brush them off as asking for support can be a hard step to take.
Give them time: Some people might prefer a text or email rather than talking on the phone or face to face. This means that they can reply to you when they feel ready. What’s important is that they know you’ll be there when they’re ready to get in touch.
Find out more: If you think you might feel awkward or uncomfortable, you may want to do some basic research around the mental illness.
Mental Health Charity’s YouTube Channels