International Day Against Homophobia, Lesbophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia 2022
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On February 2nd, we will acknowledge Time to Talk Day (TTTD), a campaign created by Time to Change. This awareness day supports conversations about mental health and aims to break down the barriers around talking about mental health.
If you are concerned about someone’s mental health or something has happened which may harm that person’s wellbeing (like a bereavement or separation), it can be tempting to ignore some of the signs that this person is struggling.
However, asking that person how they are or voicing your concerns can be the first step to showing that you care for them. If you’re unsure of how to start that first conversation about mental health, here are five tips:
Make sure your friends and family know that you support open communication, which is key to a positive and healthy relationship. A great way to encourage this is to offer opportunities to seek guidance from a mental health professional in a confidential and secure environment. That way, if your friends or family members don’t feel comfortable enough discussing their problems and feelings with you, they could disclose their issues to a professional.
It is best to leave the diagnosing of any conditions to the professionals. Even if you feel that the individual may fit a diagnosis, it is advisable to stay with the feelings and support the person rather than provide a diagnosis of what you think the ‘problem’ is - and how to fix it.
When we are actively listening, we do more than hear. Allow the person to lead the conversation. Try not to interrupt (even if you feel that it would be helpful information), and be encouraging when they are sharing their feelings. Acknowledge what they're saying by nodding or repeating phrases to ensure you understand. It will help them feel cared for and encourage them to share their feelings in the future.
Speaking out about mental health is easier for some than others, and timing is everything. It can be difficult when you feel someone may be struggling and not talking about it, yet we need to respect that they may not want to talk about it. It could be the wrong time, or they may not feel comfortable -furthermore, pushing a conversation that someone doesn’t want to have can have the opposite effect. If this happens, it is best to acknowledge that you respect that they don’t wish to talk and remind them that you are there for them if they change their mind.
The type of language used when addressing mental health can impact others. We should all be aware of our words; and how they contribute to stigmas. When discussing mental health, try to be open and non-judgemental. Remember that everyone’s experience is different. You must show empathy for other people’s emotions and show your support where you can.
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