Time to Talk Day emphasises the importance of communicating with friends and family and in some circumstances, with professionals.

It can be difficult to know what to say to our friends and family, if we are struggling with our own mental health and wellbeing. It can also be difficult to ask someone about their mental health and wellbeing. However, if the right intentions are there, you shouldn’t be afraid of discussing this with others.

Some people don’t want to burden others with their experiences or feelings but if someone is asking you how you are, you should be open and honest with them as they may be able to help you by offering you support or just by listening to you. Actively listening to someone can be one of the best things you can do as you are giving them the time and space to share. One way you can show that you are actively listening is to recap what they have said at different points throughout the conversation.

When discussing mental health and wellbeing, you need to ensure that the setting and form of communication is right. Think of the room setting if you are chatting in person– is it private; or are others likely to hear or see what is going on? Is the room comfortable? This is to make the setting more relaxed but not every conversation will be face-to-face, as some people will prefer text message, phone, or video call, so it is important to bear this in mind and to also think about what method of communication works best for you.

Ask for and offer support wherever you can. You might offer to help a colleague with a task/deadline to remove pressure and stress, or you might recommend a friend seeks progressional support by suggesting they contact their GP. You may have to seek professional support yourself or ask for tips from a friend or colleague, if you know they have been through something similar.

Lastly, remember to be kind and empathetic. If someone is opening up to you, listen to them and don’t act shocked to anything they say as it might prevent them from opening up again. Only share your own experiences or offer advice, when it is appropriate to do so – i.e. someone may ask whether you have gone through something similar, which would be the right opportunity to share your experience and how you overcome it.

This Time to Talk Day, remember to:

  • Make time for one another.
  • Be open and honest.
  • Be kind, empathetic and understanding.
  • Find a communication method that works for you.
  • Actively listen to what people say.
  • Ask for help and support when needed and offer help and support to others, when you can.

For help and guidance on opening up about your mental health, check out Mind.