Talking About Mental Health
Caring for our mental health is as important as taking care of our physical health. But for many, talking about mental health is difficult and can make it hard to find support and resources.
What to Look Out For
There are some early warning signs of mental health problems:
- Eating or sleeping too much or too little
- having low or no energy
- Feeling numb or like nothing matters
- Feeling helpless or hopeless
- Smoking, drinking or using drugs more than usual
- Severe mood wings
- Inability to perform daily tasks
- Thinking of harming yourself or others
Easy Ways to Start a Conversation About Mental Health
Are you OK?
This simple question can show someone you care and opens the door for the person to share their feelings. Show you’re genuinely concerned by sitting beside the person, maintaining an open body position and comfortable eye contact, and giving them time to express themselves.
Are you thinking about suicide or harming yourself?
If you are concerned that someone is considering suicide, don’t be afraid to ask the person this question directly. Asking someone if they have been thinking about suicide or have made plans will not push the person toward suicide if they weren’t already considering it.
I’ve noticed that...
If you’ve noticed certain changes in behavior, open the conversation by explaining to the person the changes you have noticed. For example, “I’ve noticed you have been pulling away from people and usual activities.” Then, express genuine concern.
Would you like to take a walk?
Doing an activity while you talk can reduce some of the nervousness and discomfort that can arise when talking about mental health issues. If you are concerned about someone, asking him or her to join you in a healthy activity such as walking can be an excellent way to start a conversation.
How are you, really?
Even though someone may say they are okay, it doesn’t mean they really are fine. Knowing some warning signs to look for can help you know when someone may need extra support.
For immediate medical or mental health emergencies, always call 911.