Good mates are there for the fun times, and great mates stick around when times get tough. But knowing how to support someone in their tough times is not always easy and even starting a conversation about mental health can seem tricky.
So, what can you say if you notice that someone in your life seems out of sorts or when someone tells you they are struggling?
Well, plenty, as it turns out. And it’s not that tricky after all. The key is to just start the conversation, listen, and be around. You don’t need to know all the answers, but it can help to know where to go to find out more. Here are some of our tips for starting a conversation;
- Think about the most appropriate time and place. Find somewhere private where the person will feel comfortable.
- Try to understand their situation and encourage them to seek support.
- Don’t worry if you don’t quite know what to say. Just by being supportive and listening, you’re helping to make a difference.
- Be thoughtful, genuine and say what feels comfortable.
- Appreciate that they opened up and shared their story with you. Finish the conversation with a plan/next steps.
- Make a note to check in with them again in a few days.
Remember, this is no different to talking about how someone’s feeling, it’s just that the topic is a bit more delicate. Remember you may be the only person to have noticed changes in their behaviour or have the courage to start a conversation. This small step could make a huge difference in their life and may be pivotal in them getting the help and support that they need.
Here are some of our favourite Ted Talks and other resources on starting difficult conversations about mental health.