Five Tips For Talking About Mental Health

Time To Talk 2017Telling someone you have a mental health issue can be very frightening. I’m not talking about blogging or advocating and walking on Westminster – I’m talking about reaching out to a friend or a family member and saying “I’m struggling at the moment. I need some help.”

It shouldn’t be this difficult but for many people it still is. Fear or embarrassment could be what stops someone visiting their GP and beginning treatment, and this delay will likely cause them to feel worse and worse. 

Around Time To Talk Day last year I wrote about how sharing my story of Postnatal Depression & Anxiety had helped me, but it doesn’t need to be a big show like a blog or a Facebook post. I’m talking about just taking that small step to tell someone how you feel. There aren’t any rules about who you should reach out to and when, however we can’t pretend some stigma doesn’t exist so if you’re feeling nervous about talking to someone, here are five tips that might help:

Pick Your Person

If you’ve never spoken about your mental health struggles before then it’s probably best to pick someone close to you who you completely trust. They may already have noticed that something is wrong and will be relieved that you’re confiding in them. Or they may be completely unaware and react with some surprise. This is okay. Remember that they love you and will only want to help however they can. 

If they have never experienced it themselves they may not entirely understand how you feel but they doesn’t mean they can’t provide support and compassion. 

Alternatively, if you don’t feel there is anyone in your life who can help, reach out to someone online instead who has already experienced what you’re going through, or you can speak to The Samaritans on 116 123.  

Find Resources To Show How You Feel

Thankfully, there are lots of resources and shared experiences online which describe the real life symptoms of mental illness and give a personal perspective of how it feels to be suffering. If you find something that resonates with you, use this to show how you feel to the person you are sharing with, sometimes this is easier than going into personal details yourself. 

Pick Your Moment

There is no wrong time to talk about mental health, if you feel you’re able to share then please share at will. However, if you’re nervous about talking about these issues then it might be best to pick a quiet, private moment in a location where you feel most safe and comforted. And why not use something like Time To Talk as an ‘excuse’ to open up to someone? 

Know Your Rights

If you’re sharing your illness with your employer make sure you’re aware of your rights in the workplace. The mental health charity Mind has some good information on this. Most employers these days are very understanding but there’s no harm in keeping some facts in your back pocket. 

Consider Speaking To A Professional

Confiding in a loved one about your mental health is a huge first step but it’s definitely worth considering talking to your GP too. A good GP will be able to put together a plan of treatment and support that is the first step in recovery. And if you aren’t happy with your GP’s advice insist on seeing another GP until you are. 

Tomorrow is Time To Talk 2017. For more information visit their website.  

3 comments on “Five Tips For Talking About Mental Health

  1. Great post. My sister has post-natal depression at the moment. I have to say that the health visitors and the GPs have been really unsupportive. We’ve just been really unlucky i guess. I don’t really know what happens next or what we are supposed to do. My sister and her fiancé have actually been to A&E a couple of times to try and get the support they need. Pen x

  2. I think it’s useful, as you point out, that you may not be fully in fully understood, and to be forearmed regarding employment. Loved ones who care you would expect to find out more themselves once made aware. It can be hard but finding a supportive community through communication and internet can be very informative and reassuring. Great blog.

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