How do I start a conversation about mental health?
You don't need to be an expert on mental health to talk about it. It's often the everyday things that make a difference – like asking ‘How are you?’ or sending a text.
Print off our tips card as a reminder
There are lots of simple, everyday ways you can support someone who has a mental health problem. Small things can make a big difference – like being there to listen, keeping in touch and reminding the other person that you care.
Why not print off our business-card sized tips card as a reminder to keep in your purse or wallet? There are three to an A4 page, so you might want to give the other two cards to people you know.
Tips on how to talk to someone about their mental health
Read more tips about the different ways you can be there for someone with a mental health problem:
Take the lead: If you know someone has been unwell, don’t be afraid to ask how they are. They might want to talk about it, they might not. But just letting them know they don’t have to avoid the issue with you is important. Make a pledge to talk about mental health today >>
Avoid clichés: Phrases like ‘Cheer up’, ‘I’m sure it’ll pass’ and ‘Pull yourself together’ definitely won’t help the conversation! Being open minded, non-judgemental and listening will.
Think about body language: Try to be relaxed and open - a gaping mouth, regular clock watching or looking uncomfortable won’t go unnoticed.
Ask how you can help: People will want support at different times in different ways, so ask how you can help.
Don’t just talk about mental health: Keep in mind that having a mental health problem is just one part of the person. People don't want to be defined by their mental health problem so keep talking about the things you always talked about. Just spending time with the person lets them know you care and can help you understand what they're going through.
Don’t avoid the issue: If someone comes to you to talk, don't brush it off because this can be a hard step to take. Acknowledge their illness and let them know that you're there for them.
Give them time: Some people might prefer a text or email rather than talking on the phone or face to face. This means they can get back to you when they feel ready. What’s important is that they know you’ll be there when they’re ready to get in touch. What about sending an e-card?
Now you’ve read our tips – why not put them to the test? Add your name to our pledge wall and start talking today.
If my friends hadn't talked about it, I wouldn't be alive today. My friends helped me to see things from different perspectives and that helped me to get better and stay healthy and happy.
- Steve, London