Speaking out in your everyday life is one of the best ways to change the way people around you think and act about mental health.
If you're considering sharing your experience you might like to think about some of these things:
Think about what you're comfortable with telling people. Are there any parts of your story that feel painful or vulnerable that you might not want to tell people about at the moment? If you’re unsure about what to share, think about how you would manage if someone reacted badly to personal information you shared. If they were dismissive or negative, would you be OK with that? It’s not likely to happen but it is possible, so you should think about that when you are deciding which parts of your personal experience you are prepared to share. Have a practice with someone you trust before you talk to strangers about it.
Think about who you are talking to and what you might like to share. Have a think about areas of your life that you aren't open in and why - who else could you share your experience with?
Think about why you are sharing. Remember that speaking out is about changing the way someone thinks about mental health by sharing some parts of your story. This is different to getting support from someone. While you might also want to get support for your mental health, speaking out is about changing attitudes. This is done by sharing some information that helps the other person understand that you have a mental health problem,when they didn't already know this, so that they can see that we are people just like them. This means you might like to share a bit less than you would if you were looking for support.
If you do feel ready and able to open up to people about your personal mental health experiences, you could think about doing this:
- At places you visit socially or groups you're a part of
- On public transport or in taxis
- When you are out in your community
- Where you work or study
- At the gym or classes you go to
- At places you spend time with your family and friends
We can change the way people around us think and act about mental health every day. You don’t need to wait for other people to talk about mental health – you can bring it into the conversation yourself. This can help people around you to open up to mental health by seeing it as an everyday topic that’s OK to talk about.
Here are some ways to get the conversation started:
- Speak about your own experience – bring up parts of your experience naturally in conversation e.g. if someone is talking about the weather you could mention how the weather affects your mental health.
- Try not to hide things as often – if someone is talking about something that reminds you of part of your mental health story, but you don’t mention it, think about whether you could say something about it anyway. Be careful to only say what you feel safe sharing.
- Talk about being a Time to Change Champion – a great way to bring mental health into the conversation is to mention that you are a Time to Change Champion e.g. if someone asks what you did at the weekend, you could say you read the Time to Change website and that you are a Champion. This might help you to mention something about your experience of mental health problems.
- Be honest about your feelings – if you're struggling, think about whether you would feel OK to tell people about it. This could help mental health to become a normal part of the conversation. Make sure you only do this if it feels OK for you with the person you’re talking to and don't make yourself vulnerable.
In this film Carrie explains how she brings mental health into the conversation using her dog, Troy. Click on the subtitle button to view subtitles.