Have you ever considered discussing mental health with your family and friends?
Most women think about doing so quite frequently. Yet, we don’t chat about mental wellness because we are afraid there will be some kind of repercussions. It is time to change this habit and start encouraging each other to prioritize a healthy mind.
Talking About Mental Health Is Important
Good health is something that every woman chases. Despite going to the gym, eating healthy, and visiting the doctor, we still tend to disregard our minds when thinking about health.
A healthy mind is a valuable asset and talking about the situation poses many benefits.
When we share our mental health status with friends, family members, or colleagues, we show that we are human. We realize that we aren’t alone, so it creates a sense of community and support.
Stop the Stigma
There is this idea that a person who has difficulties with their mental health is weak or has something wrong with them. These individuals get put into a category that demoralizes them. Yet their experiences are legitimate and shouldn’t be frowned upon.
It is crucial that we initiate and welcome discussions about mental health because it takes away the stigma. It allows mental health conversation to be a normal occurrence.
Encourage Healthy Behavior
As soon as we bring mental health to the forefront, we open ourselves to the possibility of getting help and supporting each other. This encourages healthy behavior instead of falling back on unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Creating Impactful Conversations
It is undeniable that talking about mental health has major benefits, but how do we make these discussions useful?
You might intend to talk to someone about mental health or it just pops up naturally while chatting. If it is the latter, great! You have already overcome the first hurdle. In reality, though, you might feel a bit anxious about initiating such a discussion.
If you know you are going to speak about mental health, then you may want to prepare yourself in some way. It is helpful to jot down a few notes that you can refer to and you can even practice what you want to say by talking to yourself in the mirror.
It is normal to be emotional during heart-to-hearts, so consider the best place to have your talk. You might want to meet in a quiet garden, at one of your homes, or an intimate restaurant. Whatever you decide, ensure that you and your friend will have time alone without any distractions.
Stay present throughout the conversation by constantly bringing your attention back to the person who is speaking. Your role is to be there for your friend or loved one and to do so without any judgment. There are times when this support won’t be verbal at all. Plus some people might not want to share their thoughts, so don’t force them to talk. Just sit with them.
Use Active Listening
Active listening is one of the best skills you can have in your arsenal and it is essential in mental health discussions. The premise is simple: listen to understand what the other person is saying instead of preparing a response. Don’t let your thoughts dwell on what might be wrong with them or attempt to provide a diagnosis.
When you use active listening, you show that you truly care about what they are saying. It shows them their situation warrants your attention.
This may require that you ask some probing questions to ensure you understand them correctly. Opt for open-ended questions as it encourages the other person to elaborate on their situation, which improves your understanding of the concept.
While you are still with them, listen for cues about the type of support they require or ask how you can help. They might just want a sympathetic ear to hear them out so tell them you are available if they need to discuss their mental health some more.
Your friend or family member might ask you to help them find professional help or ask your thoughts on a specific condition. Offer to help them with research, assist in contacting therapists, or ask them directly how you can support them.
A healthy mind and wellbeing are things most women chase, so you want to chat about this too. Talk to other people about what they do to help them cope in challenging situations or to boost their mental health.
Share some ideas about prioritizing wellbeing like exercising, reading, getting enough sleep, or starting a hobby. By the end of the chat, both of you should feel like a weight has lifted and you have the motivation to face life’s troubles.
Looking After Yourself
Discussions about mental health can be enlightening, but they may take a toll on you. Especially if the other person shared something heavy. You need to improve and maintain your own mental health too, so try some of the following ideas.
Use a Journal
A journal is an ideal place to write down your thoughts and emotions at any time, not only after talking to someone else. Take note of how you are feeling, any action steps you need to take, and write down what you are thankful for that day.
Some people will share their experiences of emotional trauma, discuss a topic that may trigger your own mental health, or expect you to be there for them every minute of the day. You need to support your friends and family, but you have to identify when things have gone too far and you cannot help.
Set boundaries with anyone you are assisting. You can tell them when you are available to talk or that they can message you and you will call them back. Discuss other options with them like meditating or breathing exercises, and be honest if you think they need some professional help.
Find a Confidante
Talking is a great way to release emotions so find someone who you can talk to about your own worries. This isn’t a time to share the information other people told you; instead, it is a time for you to clear your mind and find the confidence to help others.
You could consider talking to another friend or family member, or even the person who is with you in the discussion, which creates strong mutual support. Getting help from a therapist is always an option too.
How can I raise awareness about important mental issues?
When you speak about mental health, whether it is general information, your own story, or with others, you are already raising awareness. Join in when there are fundraisers for mental health and encourage other people to talk about it too.
What if someone doesn’t want to talk about their situation?
Don’t force them to talk to you—it won’t help. Let the person know you are there for them and allow them to approach you when they are ready.
When does professional help become necessary?
There is no time limit or specific conditions that qualify a person for professional help. A person can see a therapist, counselor, or other mental health professionals whenever they feel it is necessary.