Reaching In – How to talk about mental health
1 in 6 people experienced a common mental health problem such as anxiety or depression in the past week.
Following the tragic passing of Caroline Flack recently, we have been hearing a lot of comments around those who may be struggling to reach out for help and to talk. While this is sound advice, it’s also extremely difficult for some to actually make this huge step. Many things can get in the way of someone being able to reach out.
We need to REACH IN. To our friends, family and colleagues.
How do I reach in?
If you are worried about someone it can be difficult to know what to do. When you are aware there is an issue, it is important not to wait. Waiting and hoping they will come to you for help might lose valuable time in getting them support.
Talking to someone is often the first step to take when you know they are going through a hard time. This way you can find out what is troubling them and what you can do to help.
If it is a family member or close friend you are concerned about, they might not want to talk to you. Try not to take this personally, talking to someone you love can be difficult as they might be worried they are hurting you. It is important to keep being open and honest and telling them that you care. It may also be helpful to give them information of organisations or people they can reach out to.
Find some support contacts here
Tips for talking about mental health
1. Set time aside with no distractions
It is important to provide an open and non-judgemental space with no distractions.
2. Let them share as much or as little as they want to
Let them lead the discussion at their own pace. Don’t put pressure on them to tell you anything they aren’t ready to talk about. Talking can take a lot of trust and courage. You might be the first person they have been able to talk to about this.
3. Don’t try to diagnose or second guess their feelings
You probably aren’t a medical expert and, while you may be happy to talk and offer support, you aren’t a trained counsellor. Try not to make assumptions about what is wrong or jump in too quickly with your own diagnosis or solutions.
4. Keep questions open ended
Say “Why don’t you tell me how you are feeling?” rather than “I can see you are feeling very low”. Try to keep your language neutral. Give the person time to answer and try not to grill them with too many questions.
5. Talk about wellbeing
Exercise, having a healthy diet and taking a break can help protect mental health and sustain wellbeing. Talk about ways of de-stressing and ask if they find anything helpful.
6. Listen carefully to what they tell you
Repeat what they have said back to them to ensure you have understood it. You don’t have to agree with what they are saying, but by showing you understand how they feel, you are letting them know you respect their feelings.
7. Offer them help in seeking professional support and provide information on ways to do this
You might want to offer to go the GP with them, or help them talk to a friend or family member. Try not to take control and allow them to make decisions.
8. Know your limits
Ask for help or signpost if the problem is serious. If you believe they are in immediate danger or they have injuries that need medical attention, you need to take action to make sure they are safe. *
You can ask how they are feeling and let them know that you are available to listen. Talking can be a great help to someone who is feeling suicidal, but it may be distressing for you. It is important for you to talk to someone about your own feelings and the Samaritans can help you as well.
*If someone tells you they are feeling suicidal or can’t go on, or if you suspect they are thinking of taking their own life, it is very important to encourage them to get help. You or they should contact a GP or NHS 111. They can also contact the Samaritans straight away by calling 116 123 (UK) for free at any time. They could also get help from their friends, family, or mental health services.
The most important thing to remember is we all need help sometimes, we are all human and we all need someone to talk to. Your kind and non-judgemental ear may be just the thing your friend or colleague needs to help them feel heard and cared for, or it could be the first vital step.
Be kind, be empowered.
One in four people in the UK will suffer from a mental health issue each year and yet two-thirds have no one to speak to about their mental health, according to a poll for Time To Talk Day 2019 by Time To Change.
While it is a legal requirement to have physical first aiders in every workplace, and in many public places and events, we’re still a long way from seeing our mental health treated in the same way.
Here at Be Empowered we hope to change that by training people as mental health first aiders to be able to assist those suffering with mental ill health in the workplace, and signposting them to get the appropriate professional help for them.
Click below to find out about how you can train with us!