If you’re feeling upset or angry with someone, they can be more responsive to hearing about your feelings than judgements or accusations about their behaviour.
How could you respond to these statements by expressing your feelings?
“I don’t want to hear about your mental health – you should keep that to yourself”
“When you say that I feel sad because I’ve spent so much time in my life hiding my mental health problem.”
In this the Champion has explained how they feel without attacking the other person e.g. saying “Don’t tell me to keep my mental health to myself!”
“People on benefits are lazy – there are jobs around for anyone who needs one”
“That’s really hard for me to hear and to be honest I feel a bit frustrated when I hear comments about people on benefits being lazy because I would really like to work, but it isn’t possible for me at the moment because of my mental health.”
Again in this example the Champion has honestly expressed how they feel, keeping to their own feelings and responding in a calm but assertive way.
Sticking to what you believe
You know what you believe about mental health stigma and your own experience. Sometimes people worry about sounding like a broken record, but it’s really ok to say the same thing over again if it’s what you believe. The other person might try to get you involved in hypothetical arguments or divert your attention, but remember you can take control of the discussion and stick to your purpose of talking about your experience to challenge mental health stigma.
How could you stick to what you believe in this situation?
Champion: “I started to feel depressed when my partner left me. But it rapidly started to get out of control. I was struggling to get up in the morning..”
Member of the public (interrupting): “Oh well that’s natural isn’t it. We all get depressed in situations like that. Perhaps you could have tried online dating?”
Champion: “I agree it is really difficult for people when their partner leaves them, but for me it became more than this. I was diagnosed with depression and needed therapy before I was able to overcome the low mood that I felt all the time.”
In this example the Champion has refused to be distracted with the question about finding someone else and has stayed on the subject of their depression, explaining that they did in fact have a mental health problem which they needed support with.
Member of the public: “My daughter had anxiety – she wouldn’t get on the bus either. I was really worried about her and things couldn’t go on that way. So I sat down with her and gave her a talking to. She got on the bus then, although she was trembling. She did OK. Maybe you just need to give it a go.”
Champion: “I can really see how much you care about your daughter. I don’t think that would have worked for me though. I would have given anything to be able to get on public transport when I was struggling – it had such an awful impact on my life.”
Although the Champion very much disagrees with the member of the public, they are still able to acknowledge their care for their daughter, which may help the person to listen to what else they have to say.
Have you expressed yourself in a way you were proud of that helped change someone's attitude? Let us know and we might pop it in our next Champions e-news! (subject to space)