So, this week is Mental Health Week which is all about educating people on mental health, reaching out to people and talking to others about your mental health.
Talking about mental health is not easy. It's been a taboo subject for so long that some of us don't know how to talk about it.
This post is going to cover two sides of the conversation: talking to someone about their mental health and reaching out to someone to talk about your mental health. There's way more to this issue than this, but starting the conversation, and discussing mental health, is a good place to start.
Obviously this method will not work for all mental health issues, but hopefully it will help you in some way.
Talking to someone about their mental health
Approaching someone you're concerned about or being approached by someone who wants to talk to you about their mental health is not easy. But, it should be done more often - nearly 45% of the population will experience a mental health disorder at some stage.
I think one of the worst things we do is ignore what's right in front of us. Some people think it's too much to deal with and others don't know how to approach someone they're concerned about, so they don't. If you see someone who's obviously living with a mental health problem you should approach them.
What you should do first is find a safe place for them to talk. Somewhere warm and inviting. This can be something as silly as a pillow island in your living room or as simple as a couch.
Have a plan for what you want to talk about and do some research. If you can sort of understand what they're going through, you can approach the issue better.
Next bring the person into this space and start the conversation about their health. Don't pressure them to talk, but slowly pull it out of them. Try to understand that is not easy to talk about. I mean, it's not easy for you to talk about but they have to live with it and they may not be used to talking about it.
Next, don't play the blame game. Don't blame them for their mental health. This will only result in them pulling away from you and you might not get the chance to talk to them again.
Don't use negative language. This could make the person feel like they are being attacked and they could withdraw from you.
Listen. The best thing you can do is listen and reply in turn. Talk about them, not yourself, and apologize if you become negative.
When the conversation is over, make sure to find time to talk to this person again and again. This isn't just a one off. They're here for life, so you should check in on them when they check out.
Reaching out is not easy, especially when you're going through a mental health problem.
If you're thinking about talking to someone about your mental health give thought to who you talk to. Choose someone you feel comfortable with and work up to talking to them. Make sure that if it's a family member, your safety won't be compromised if you tell them. If that's the case, it's a good idea to tell a friend instead and wait to tell you're family about it when you're no longer living with them.
Have an idea about what you want to cover in the conversation. Things might become less emotional if the conversation has direction.
How you reach out to them is up to you. This can be by talking to them, getting a friend to talk to them or by sending a note, text or an email. Make sure to show and/or tell them how important this is to you. If you brush it off like it's nothing, they might as well.
If you can, try talking to them face to face. If you need someone else there to talk for you, then do that.
The talking part is the hardest. I can only suggest to take your time and talk to them over a number of occasions if it's too overwhelming to cover in one.
Be prepared for them to not understand. This is probably the worst part but you may need to educate them a bit about your mental health problem. Whether that's facts or just everything you haven't told them. Lay out events and show them how they connect and how they are/were affecting you.
Hopefully it all goes well but if it doesn't, have a safe house where you can go to. This could be friend or families place where you can stay until things settle down.
If you don't feel like you can talk to your friends or family or anyone at your school/college/university/work place there are a number or numbers you can call. All of which are listed HERE.
I know it's hard, but make sure to continually have conversations like this. People may not see that you're struggling so reach out to them.
Hopefully, this starts the conversation for you. If you need to talk, I'm always around. You can message me on facebook, twitter, tumblr or on my site.
Anjulie Te Pohe
Founder of Koru Mag | Mookychick contributor | Avid reader and writer of YA | Takatapui (Maori & bi/queer) | She/Them | Contact: email@example.com