Showing you’re open to talking
One of the most significant things for young people is that they know they can come to talk to someone if they are worried about the mental health or the mental health of someone they know. Being open to talking about mental health, and showing you care, will mean a lot.
- Remind them you care
- Be patient: there are times when they won’t feel like talking
- Everyday questions can help – like ‘How’re you doing?’ or ‘How was it today?’
If the opportunity to talk arises
Here are five tips that might help:
- Listening is #1: It can be more important and significant than talking
- Small and informal: You don’t have to set aside hours to chat, and informal spaces can be great – like in the car, over a meal, or while you’re watching TV
- Put experiences in context: We all have mental health, just like we all have physical health. Mental wellbeing doesn’t mean feeling happy all the time, and mental health problems are actually quite common
- Depersonalise: You might find it easier to talk about hypothetical situations rather than their direct questions about their feelings. Like saying ‘Exams can be really stressful, can’t they?’ or chatting about the experiences of a TV character
- Hearing what’s true for them: You might not understand or agree with their feelings or way of seeing things, but they might be true for them in that moment
Remember, you don’t need to be an expert. It’s OK not to know or understand things. Everyday words are often helpful – like stress, feeling low, depressed or anxious. You could even learn together.
Hear the experience of three parents in the film below: