Time to Talk Day is all about opening up conversations around mental health.
It’s by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, it’s a day in which we take the time to chat to our friends and peers about their mental health. Sometimes talking to someone about their mental health and how they are truly feeling can feel scary. This day is in place to help show us that conversations with others can be really powerful and help others to get through difficult times. Taking the time to check in with each other can be helpful.
Questions are a powerful way to get people to open up in conversations around mental health. You should take the time to listen to people’s answers, in an open minded and non-judgmental atmosphere, to help make the person comfortable in opening up about how they’re feeling. A good way to do this is to ask open ended questions, like ‘how does that affect you?’ or ‘what does it feel like?’. These questions will open up a space in which the person you are talking to can fully express what they’re going through and how this makes them feel. Good opening phrases like ‘you don’t seem yourself lately, what’s up?’ or ‘tell me what’s been going on?’ can help to open up the conversation, putting the focus on how a person is feeling and creating a space for them to open up.
How and When to Talk
It’s important to think about how and when to approach these kinds of conversations.
It’s often easier to talk side by side than face to face. Making sure you’re in a calming environment with minimal distractions can be really beneficial. Some ideas include:
- Catching up over coffee
- Going for a walk or sitting on a park bench
- Cooking together
- During a break for a seminar or lecture
It’s helpful to be encouraging as well. Reassuring them that they can take their time and that it’s a difficult conversation to have can help express that you’re trying to support them through what they’re going through.
Make sure you read your own body language. It’s easy for us to show that we might be uncomfortable with something, without knowing it. So make sure that you look engaged, whether that’s through nodding or keeping a comfortable level of eye contact when speaking to each other.
Don’t rush to a solution
Conversations about mental health are about providing a supportive environment for a person to express what they’re going through. Don’t feel like you have to offer a quick fix to what they are feeling or help them find a solution. It’s often best to listen and respond to what the person is saying in a supportive way unless you’re directly asked for advice. It’s important to be reassuring to people that are talking about their mental health with you, as it can be quite a vulnerable conversation to have.
Make sure to reassure the person that you’re being supportive and encouraging them that things will get better can be helpful. You can also encourage them to take self-care, such as regular exercise and eating well, and checking in on them regularly to show them that you’re being supportive.
Sometimes people aren’t ready to talk. It’s important to not be pushy in conversations around mental health. Showing people that you’re open to have the conversation may make it easier for them to have the conversation in future.
By talking, we take care and support each other, so understanding how we can go about these conversations can have a profound impact on people’s lives.
Remember to look after yourself too – conversations can be tricky and might be emotional for you. Take time to show yourself some self-care and speak to someone if you are finding it difficult.