Time to Talk Day 2019: Mental health talking tips

Sometimes when we’re lost in our of own head and stuck in the midst of what feels like tortutorus mental health, it can seem impossible to talk. For me it was mainly out of fear because I was worrying what my family and friends would think, and I was scared. I also felt like I didn’t want to be a burden on anyone, and if I just dealt with it myself and pretended I was OK no-one would know and I could just carry on as normal. But I was wrong.

I felt like a ten tonne weight was lifted from my shoulders.

Talking made me feel like I wasn’t alone anymore, and when I finally accepted that I couldn’t pretend to be OK anymore, I felt like a ten tonne weight was lifted from my shoulders. I actually didn’t have to feel like this forever.

One of my favourite quotes which I think can bring hope if you’re suffering with depression or other mental health issues is: “Sometimes it’s got to rain so you can see the rainbow.” I’m not sure who said this, but visualising the rainbow helps me when I feel down.

At the end of the day it’s 2019 so no-one should be suffering in silence.

So as today is Time to Talk Day, led by the fantastic mental health movement Time to Change, I want to play my part of spreading the message and helping people start conversations about mental health, because at the end of the day it’s 2019 so no-one should be suffering in silence.

Here I have compiled a list of useful tips recommended by Time to Change about ways you can begin a helpful conversations with a friend or loved one.


My mental health conversation ‘ingredient selfie’

Questions

Take the time to ask questions about the persons feelings and really listen to their worries or concerns so you can get a better understanding of what they are going through. Time to Change suggests you ‘ask questions that are open and not leading or judgemental – such as “how does that affect you” or “what does it feel like?”’ When people are opening up, it is important that they don’t feel judged, so just give them space to vent without passing too much comment.

Consider times and locations

Chatting face-to-face can feel a little bit intimidating to some people, so it might be easier to talk side-by-side. This could be done, in a car or a queue, on a walk or a jog, the possibilities are endless. But this isn’t the be all and end all, don’t be discouraged if you think you don’t have the perfect place.

Everyone’s experience is different, but in my case when I first told my dad about how I was feeling, I sat next to him on my sofa and he put his arm around me, I definitely found talking easier like this.

Try not to offer advice unless asked

Sometimes we don’t have the answers and mental health can be very complicated and difficult, so Time to Change recommend that you ‘resist the urge to offer quick fixes to what they’re going through.’ Listening is enough, unless the person directly asks for advice.

Treat them the same

You don’t have to act any differently towards your friend or family member, they’re still the same person. Continue to do the things you usually do and offer support along the way. Their mental health problem does not define them.

Patience

If the person you want to support doesn’t feel ready to talk today, maybe they may feel up to talking another day. Just having the reassurance that they’re not alone can sometimes be enough.

Hopefully you have found this useful, but remember today isn’t the only day you can use this advice. After all 1 in 4 people suffer with their mental health, so if we all work together and look out for each other, we can build happier minds and help reduce this statistic.


My mental health conversation ‘ingredient selfie’

Here are ways you can support Time to Talk Day online. Use the #TimeToTalk on Twitter and Instagram. They are also inviting people to share an ‘ingredient selfie’, they want to know what you think goes into a good conversation. Write this on a piece of paper and share it with a selfie (see my two above). You can find more about this information here.

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