Updated: Mar 5
It's never easy to bring up the subject of mental health conditions, whether they are your own or those of a friend or family member. It is only natural for someone who is struggling with their mental health to be fearful of asking for help and observing how others respond to them, especially if mental health issues are not as prevalent where they live. The same is true for those whom people seek support from; it may be terrifying and pressuring to be entrusted with another person's mental well-being. Despite this, no one should be discouraged from having open conversations about mental health, no matter how normal or understandable it may be to be afraid of asking for or receiving treatment.
Setting the Scene
Setting a comfortable atmosphere for both sides to discuss and listen to each other is essential before the conversation even begins. The location, timing, and method of your approach to the conversation can all have a significant impact on the outcome.
Before starting a conversation (How to Start the Conversation, 2020):
Make sure you are feeling calm and open to listening.
Be conscious of your nonverbal cues, such as your tone of voice and body language. These factors could be just as significant as what you say.
Think about where. People, especially young people, frequently prefer not to be eye to eye. Take part in a shared activity that you know they often enjoy, such as a drive or a walk, that could allow you to converse without sole attention being directed at you or them.
Be sensitive to their feelings. Pay close attention, reflect on what you heard, and refrain from passing judgment (it can be more useful at times to say nothing than to propose answers or solutions).
Take a ‘you and me vs the problem’ approach. By doing this, you may assure them that you will work things out together.
Starting the Conversation
Beginning a conversation about mental health is never simple and will never be ideal. If you want someone to open up to you, you can start the conversation by letting them know that you've observed that they don't seem like their usual selves and explaining the changes in their mood or behavior you've seen. Some examples include (How to Start a Conversation about Mental Health, 2015):
You don’t seem yourself lately, what’s going on?
Tell me about what is going on with you?
What’s happening for you?
I’ve noticed you haven’t been going out lately, is there anything you’d like to talk about?
Starting with a generic question can occasionally be beneficial. Examples include (How to Start the Conversation, 2020):
How is [e.g. school/sport/work] going?
How are you getting on with [e.g. your friends/your siblings/coworkers]?
How are you feeling about [e.g. studying/exams/work]?
'I' statements are crucial when concentrating on more personal thoughts and feelings, such as (How to Start the Conversation, 2020):
I’ve noticed that you seem to have a lot on your mind lately. I’m happy to talk or listen and see if I can help.
I feel like you [haven’t been yourself lately/have been up and down] - how are things?
You seem [anxious/sad] - what is happening for you? Just letting you know that I care, and we can work it out together.
It’s okay if you don’t want to talk to me. You could talk to [trusted/known adult/professional]. I want you to know that I am concerned about you.
Opening up about your personal well-being can be difficult to start a conversation about, but once you start talking and expressing your feelings, you'll suddenly feel a weight lift off your chest. This is especially true if you are speaking with a trustworthy person or a mental health professional. If you speak from the first-person point of view, the previous examples may still be applicable to you.
I am not feeling like myself lately, can I share my concerns with you?
There’s a lot on my mind lately, would you care to listen?
I need to share some things with you.
I’ve been very [anxious/down] lately, it’s because…
I need your [company/opinion/help] on some things…
Never be hesitant to communicate your mental health concerns with your family, friends, or any other trusted individual. You can also benefit from the Mental Health Care services offered by Fidecita HR Advisory to get professional assistance. Click here to know more. You can also message the Fidecita Facebook Page or email us at email@example.com for further inquiries.