Don’t worry – you don’t have to be an expert to open up about mental health. You can follow these three simple steps.

And don’t forget that professional help is out there. Our friends at Mind have a handy guide on seeking help for a mental health problem, and our friends at Rethink Mental Illness have advice on what to do in a crisis.  

1. An open ear reduces fear

Listen –  it is often more important than talking. You don’t have to have all the answers – just listening can make a big difference. Show  you’re taking on board what they’re saying. You can do this saying something simple like “that sounds really difficult”.

“Just knowing there are people I can offload to – a direction to channel racing thoughts or nagging doubts – is often enough for me.”

Andrew

2. Be a friend, don't mend

You don’t have to fix it, just being there will mean a lot. It can be difficult to open, especially if you think your mate won’t understand. Remember what they’re going through is real to them, and be the supportive friend you’ve always been.

"I don't expect my mates to fully understand my mental health problem, but when they acknowledge it must be difficult and don't dismiss my feelings, it helps a lot."

Carl

3. It's easy to say "that sounds tough"

Show you care and take on board what they’re saying. It’s OK to ask questions like “What kind of thoughts are you having?”, “How can I help?” Just try not to minimise what a mate’s going through.

"A few years ago, I’d have probably told a mate to ‘man up’ if they were upset, and wouldn’t have understood depression – until it happened to me. It hit me like a brick wall."

Barry