We all have mental health, and by having these important conversations we can help ourselves and others by showing someone there’s no shame or stigma in talking about how you're feeling. It also helps to create supportive communities where we can talk openly about mental health and feel empowered to seek help when we need it.
It’s hard to know where to start when talking to someone about their mental health or even if someone does begin to open up, it might not always be easy to know what to say.
That's why we've listed our tips below to help you begin the discussion with someone about mental health.
START THE CONVERSATION:
‘How are you?’ can often lead to a standard response of "I'm fine" or "I'm okay". The simple act of asking again, with interest, shows a genuine willingness to talk and listen to the person. If you’re worried about someone, the next time they say they’re fine, try asking ‘How are you really?’ or ‘Are you sure you’re ok?’. This may encourage them to open up to you about how they are feeling.
Keep it informal
You don’t have to set aside hours to have a talk with someone, 10 minutes may be enough, but just make sure there are no distractions. Perhaps turning off your phone and minimising other distractions will help you focus on the person and what they might need. Talking when doing something else such as going for a walk during a break or whilst having a coffee can also take some of the initial pressure off – it doesn’t need to be a formal sit-down conversation.
Make it clear that you’re there to listen and support them, without judgement. Talk about mental health in the same way you would physical health. This normalises mental and emotional difficulties, making it easier for people to talk about them.
Use Open Questions
The best types of questions are open-ended because the person can answer however they feel most comfortable. Such as "What kind of thoughts are you having?” or “How can I help?”
Take time to listen to what they have to say – let them do most of the talking. If they don’t want to talk, don’t push them. Respect their boundaries and try again another time.
You don't need to have the solution
After they finish talking, don’t jump to conclusions or tell them what they should do. Resist the urge to offer quick fixes which can often lead to people to feeling dismissed. Sometimes people aren’t seeking advice, but instead, just want someone to listen to their concerns.
Show that you care by following up later on, even if they don’t want to continue the conversation at that exact moment.
Look after yourself too
Choosing to talk can make a positive difference to someone’s life but it can also be very difficult. Make sure you look after your own personal wellbeing and mental health or seek support if you need it.
Connect them to information and Support:
Encourage them to seek professional help if they feel like they can’t cope or if the problem is impacting their daily life.
Help them find mental health services in their area, such as counsellors or support groups.
Offer to go with them to their first appointment or help connect them with someone who can support them through the process.
Become part of the community
As a Mates in Mind Supporter, you will have exclusive access to a range of resources, training and support, designed to help you organisation implement their workplace mental health program.