Mind in Salford have put together a Week of Self-Kindness as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, this week.
Today’s activity is all about how we can connect to the people we care about to start a conversation about mental health, even when we may not be able to see them face-to-face.
Talking about mental health can sometimes seem daunting; how do we bring it up? What if they don’t want to talk about it? What if we say the wrong thing?
The more we have conversations about mental health, the more normal and comfortable these chats become, and they can make a huge difference to a person’s mental health and wellbeing.
Below are some conversation starter ideas to help you start a conversation with a friend, family member, or colleague:
- “How are you?” Many of us often respond that 'we’re ‘fine’, when we’re not. Asking someone twice can show that the person has space to open up if they would like to.
- “I’ve noticed that…” Gently acknowledging that you’ve noticed a difference in someone’s behaviour, such as being more quiet or withdrawn than usual, can be a good way to start the conversation. Follow this up with a supportive statement, and ask if they would like to talk about it.
- Listen, and then listen more. If someone starts to open up, give them the space to talk before asking more questions. It can be tempting to fill gaps or silences in conversation, but sometimes people need time to build the courage to say things or may need space to think.
- When talking face-to-face, it is often easier to talk side-by-side, so at this time where many of us can’t speak in person, it might be easier to speak over the phone than by video call. Alternatively, seeing the other person’s face may be a source of comfort. Do whatever feels right for you.
- It’s important to remember that no one has to open up, including you. Sometimes people don’t feel ready to talk, and that’s okay. As long as the other person knows that you are there to support them if they need, this can make a huge difference.