Talking about mental health takes courage, and it can be difficult to start a conversation when you’re worried about someone – especially when you’re not quite sure where to start or what to say.
With today being No Talk Day, an initiative from Beyond Blue and Triple M, we thought it was important to share some advice on how to start a conversation and offer support to someone who might be experiencing depression or anxiety.
While it’s not easy, Beyond Blue has provided some valuable tips on how you can approach these situations.
Tip 1 – Ask
Beyond Blue explains that the first step should be to find a place where you both feel comfortable and ask how your friend is doing.
For many people, there might be some uncertainty over what exactly you should say – and it’s easy to worry that you might say the wrong thing.
Beyond Blue has compiled a list of useful phrases which “people who have experienced anxiety or depression say are most helpful to hear during difficult times” – along with an explanation why these are helpful.
For example, telling someone that “I’m here for you” can help them to know they’re not alone. This can be incredibly important, as “anxiety and depression can make people feel very isolated and alone”.
Phrases like “I can see this is a really hard time for you” can help to validate someone’s personal experience and feelings of anxiety and depression.
Telling someone that you know how they feel or that they just need to “snap out of it” is not helpful, and this type of statement will likely shut down a conversation.
Tip 2 – Listen
It can be very helpful to ask open-ended questions in order to keep the conversation flowing and demonstrate that you are really listening.
Encourage them to talk about what is happening and how they’re feeling.
Experiences of depression and anxiety are different for everyone, so take the time to understand their unique experience of this and let them know their feelings are valid and recognised.
Avoid jumping to conclusions, trying to provide a diagnosis or giving advice about what they should do – the essential thing is to let them know they are being heard and can talk about their feelings.
Tip 3 – Support
As Beyond Blue explains, support is the most important thing you can offer. Simply asking “what can I do to support you?” can be a very good place to start.
Help them to explore their options for how they might feel better. In this regard, Beyond Blue suggests starting with a General Practitioner (GP) before exploring other options.
This can be either the usual GP of the person in question or perhaps a local GP with a good reputation in mental health.
You can also contact the Beyond Blue Support Service to help find a health professional in your area.
Tip 4 – Check In
While the previous steps are all incredibly important, it is also crucial to follow up.
Make sure to check-in with your friend to keep an eye on how they’re going.
Organise a time and date to catch up and try to make regular plans with them – even if they don’t always accept your invitation.
Find Out More
Monday 4 July is No Talk Day, where Triple M dedicates their stations to conversations about mental health. From 6am to 6pm, there’s no radio shows, no ads, no news and no traffic reports. Just personal stories, information and advice on talking to a mate about mental health.
For more information on Beyond Blue and their services, please visit www.beyondblue.org.au
Akyra is a proud supporter of Beyond Blue. This organisation was agreed by Akyra employees as our 2022 Charity Partner. One percent of the company’s monthly turnover is donated their 24/7 Support Service that provides counselling, information, advice and referrals to assist people experiencing anxiety, depression and those at increased risk of suicide.
Find out more about Akyra’s partnership with Beyond Blue in 2022.
Disclaimer – Reliance on Content
The material distributed is general information only. The information supplied is not intended to be legal or other professional advice, nor should it be relied upon as such. You should seek legal or professional advice in relation to your specific situation.