The way we talk, the phrases we use, and how often we talk about mental health can make a huge difference to tackling stigma and helping people feel supported.
We know it’s not easy to talk about mental health, whether that’s talking about your own experiences, or talking to somebody else about theirs. That’s why we’re talking about it right now, today, and every day! We want to help reduce the negative stigma and misconceptions that surround mental health.
Our top tips for talking about mental health:
Make time to check in with yourself, your loved ones, friends, and colleagues. If you’ve noticed that someone in your life doesn’t seem themselves, try making space for a conversation. Similarly, if you or someone that cares about you notices that you haven’t been yourself recently – take some time to be compassionate to yourself, and think about any issues that may be negatively affecting your mental health.
Compassion is key!
Being understanding and kind can help create a safe space for the person you’re talking to, and may allow them to feel more comfortable to open up about their mental health. Try to leave any judgments at the door.
Avoid using phrases or terms that may reinforce mental health stigma
For example, describing someone who is organised as ‘OCD’, or saying ‘I’m depressed’ if you feel a bit sad, which is different to living with depression. You can find more examples of phrases to avoid here. Similarly, it’s important to not let fear stop you from talking about mental health or asking how someone may be feeling. Avoiding the subject may make people feel less able to open up.
Ask someone what they need, and if there is anything you could do to help
But be respectful about the fact that not everyone will want to be open right away.
It’s also important to remember that sometimes just listening is all you need to do. You don’t need to try to solve someone’s problems for them. In fact, if someone is opening up to you about how they’re feeling and you jump straight into problem-solving, it can sometimes leave them feeling unheard.
Remain calm and relaxed
This will create a comfortable environment for an open conversation to be had.
If you’re checking in with yourself
Try noting down some of the things that have been affecting your mood, stress levels, and overall mental health recently. This can help you address areas in your life that may be negatively impacting your mental health.
Researching and familiarising yourself with how best to communicate about mental health is helpful, as it allows you to speak confidently about mental health. Whether you speak about your own experiences or offer a shoulder to someone you care about – the more that mental health is spoken about appropriately and positively, the less stigma surrounds it.
We hope that some of the tips we’ve shared today can help you feel more comfortable and confident when it comes to talking about mental health!