Time to Talk Day: Tips for talking about mental health

Today is Time to Talk Day, a national awareness day which helps to raise awareness of the importance of talking about mental health and starting that conversation. Today on the blog we have a Student Mental Health Champion sharing her advice for having that all important conversation with someone.

By Leanne, a current MSc Psychological Wellbeing and Mental Health NTU student

Hello everyone, my name is Leanne and I’m a Student Mental Health Champion at NTU. I’m currently studying an MSc in Psychological wellbeing and mental health. For Time to Talk day (February 4th) I wanted to write a post about how to talk to someone about mental health. This years theme for Time to Talk day is the power of small, a small conversation around mental health can have a big difference. I think this is a very valuable tool and we should all aim to discuss mental health more openly.

During the current pandemic, support networks have become less available with social distancing and studying from home this has had a huge impact on our mental health. But it’s important to talk about mental health, it’s just as important as our physical health and if you feel something isn’t right, it’s important to reach out for help. Starting conversations face to face are harder these days with social distancing and lockdowns, but there are alternatives to get the conversation started. Video calling, talking on the phone, or even text if you don’t feel comfortable using the other methods are all great ways to start the conversation.

In terms of talking to someone who you think may be struggling with mental health, there’s a few things you can do to make the conversation more comfortable and open. Firstly, make sure that if you are approaching a person to talk about mental health, you pick a time when both you and the individual are relaxed and open-minded and are ready to have the conversation.

You should also make sure you choose a place with minimal distractions, you don’t want to start discussing mental health in the middle of a busy room or when everyone is sitting down for a meal together. With COVID this is a little more difficult as you’ll more than likely be talking over the phone or video chat. In this case, I’d suggest making sure it’s a time when you and the individual are free and not about to start studying/work etc.

Another tip is to avoid accusing or blaming the person, instead you could just start the conversation by asking how they are feeling and guide the conversation from there. Also make sure to listen to the person talking, if they don’t feel like you are paying attention to them then they will be less likely to tell you anything. Make sure that you also reassure the person that you won’t share what they have told you with others (unless the person is in danger/at risk) and that you are there for them and if they want to tell you anything anytime you are there to listen if they need to talk.

If you feel like you want to talk to someone about your own mental health, the above tips can also be used. You can also contact get in touch with any of the Student Mental Health Champions through our peer to peer Let’s Talk Teams sessions, we are here to listen and help you access the support you need. There is also lots of support available through the university which you can access through the Student Support Services.

Remember it’s okay not to be okay.

If you or anyone you know are struggling with mental health don’t forget there’s lots of support available through NTU and also nationwide mental health support you can access. (See below for some starting points)

For more information around Time to Talk day visit the Time to Change website

For help and advice whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.

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