Top 5 tips for starting conversations about mental health
Today is #TimeToTalk day, and there's never been a more crucial time for Mancunians to check in with each other.
Today is #TimeToTalk day.
This important day is marked once a year here in the UK.
A campaign ran by mental health awareness initiative Time To Change, its aim is to change the way people think and act about mental health problems, by breaking down the stigma and encouraging conversations.
And with the latest studies by leading mental health charity MIND revealing that more than half of adults (60%) and over two thirds of young people (68%) said their mental health has deteriorated over lockdown, #TimeToTalk day couldn’t be more crucial for Mancunians this year.
We know that talking about mental health is not always easy.
But starting a conversation doesn’t have to be awkward, and being there for someone can make a huge difference.
While it’s true that there is no right way to talk about mental health, and just the act of starting a conversation itself could have a significant impact on someone who needs it, that doesn’t mean we always confident approaching the subject, which is why Time To Change is here to help.
These top five tips will guide you along to make sure you’re lending a hand in a helpful way.
1. Ask Questions & Listen
This one may seem like it goes without saying, but asking questions can give the person space to express how they’re really feeling and what they’re going through.
It will also help you to understand their experience better.
Try to ask questions that are open and not leading or judgemental, such as – “How does that affect you?”, or “What does it feel like?” – and then make an effort to listen intently to their responses.
2. Time & Place
Giving careful thought and consideration to the time and place of a conversation can be truly invaluable.
Sometimes it’s easier to talk side by side rather than face to face, so if you do talk in person, you might want to chat whilst you’re doing something else, like walking, cooking, or even stuck in traffic, for example.
But don’t let the search for the perfect place put you off.
3. Don’t Try to Fix It
It can often be hard to see someone you care about having a difficult time, but it’s encouraged that you try to resist the urge to offer quick fixes to what they’re going through.
Learning to manage or recover from a mental health problem can be a long journey, and they’ve likely already considered lots of different tools and strategies, which is why just giving them the opportunity to talk can be really powerful.
So unless they’ve asked for advice directly, it might be best just to listen.
4. Treat Them The Same
It’s important to remember that when someone has a mental health problem, they’re still the same person as they were before, and that means that when a friend or loved one opens up to you about mental health, they don’t want to be treated any differently.
If you want to support them, just keep it simple – do the things you’d normally do.
5. Be Patient
No matter how hard you try, some people just might not be ready to talk about what they’re going through, and that’s ok – the fact that you’ve tried to talk to them about it may make it easier for them to open up another time when they feel comfortable.
And there’s a lot of other things you can do to support them even if you’re not talking too:
- Doing things together.
- Sending a text to let them know you’re thinking of them.
- Offering to help with day-to-day tasks.
Are you finding lockdown tough?
If you or anyone you know is struggling right now, please know that you are never alone and there are many different places you can reach out to for support right here in Greater Manchester.
Suffering in silence never need be the way – there’s always #TimeToTalk
- Manchester Mind – An organisation that has supported people in Manchester for over 30 years. Most services are now available over the phone, by email or video call. The number is 0161 769 5732 and the opening hours are Monday – Friday, 10am – 2pm.
- The GM Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust – The local NHS helpline is open 24/7 which you can call any time, day or night, if you feel your mental health is beginning to suffer: 0800 953 0285.
- Andy’s Man Club – A group dedicated to starting conversations about mental health, assuring people that it’s ok to talk. You can contact them by email on: [email protected].
- CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably supports people via phone and webchat. You can call 0800 58 58 58 or speak to a support worker online. Open 5pm – midnight.
- Samaritans – The Manchester & Salford Samaritans offer emotional support by telephone and email. The phone lines and email support are available 24/7. Call 116 123 or visit the website.
Another great resource we recommend checking out is Manchester’s very own Feel Good Club.
The movement – which started humbly as an Instagram page, filled with uplifted messages and top tips by founders Kiera and Aimie Lawlor-Skillen – is aimed at normalising the stigma around mental health and has since flourished into a successful platform of 187K+ followers. So successful in fact, that it saw the pair go on to open a brand-new wellbeing-focused cafe in the heart of the Northern Quarter in October of last year, which has remained open for takeaway services throughout this third national lockdown to provide a freshly-brewed cup of coffee and some support where needed.
The Manc Group is also here to help too.
There are real people behind our platforms, and our DMs are always open, so we encourage you to drop us a message should you ever need a chat and we will be more than happy to help point you in the right direction towards the best help possible.
And remember, no matter how many times it may have been said before, it cannot be said enough – it’s okay not to be okay, and your emotions are always valid.
We got this, Manchester.