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5 Simple Ways To Start A Conversation About Mental Health

January 25, 2017

Today marks a national event of great importance—Bell’s Let’s Talk day. This cross-Canada event is made with the hope that a dialogue can be opened on the serious subject of mental illness and mental health, so those suffering with it (and all Canadians, in fact) can discuss the issue openly. There continues to be an unhealthy stigma against such open discussion of the topic and if more and more Canadians participate in this event, hopefully that stigma will end and a valuable conversation can start. For all those with the willingness and desire to talk, here are some tips.

Language Matters

As with any topic that is too often ignored, there is the risk that the public at large isn’t aware of the complexity of the issue. Such is certainly the case with mental illness, in particular the language that is associated with it. While your heart may be in the right place in trying to start the conversation, using outdated and possibly offensive terms only adds to the negative public view on mental illness. Be aware and respectful about your language so the real issues can be addressed.

Educate Yourself

Again, wanting to participate in the conversation is a great first step, but there’s more effort needed to make it a worthwhile conversation. Enter into the discussion with a deeper understanding of the issue, so that you add to the conversation in a meaningful way. Education is key to breaking the stigma against it and when you speak to someone who struggles with health illness with a deeper understanding, it means something to them.

Be Kind

In all things, approaching it with kindness is always the best path. Simple acts of kindness can make all the difference in the world to someone, whether you know it or not. Offer a helping hand to people who are struggling, seek out the conversation rather than waiting for it to come to you, and just be a friend to someone who needs one.

Listen And Ask

Sometimes when you’re struggling with an issue, being heard can make a big difference. There are many people who suffer through the pain of mental illness day in and day out, so if you give them the time to listen to you, you can be happy with how you’ve helped someone. Ask them about what they’re struggle with, show that that you are listening, and ask them how you can help. It’s simple, but it can mean the world to some people.

Talk About It

The purpose of this day is to start the conversation, but the conversation should not stop after today. The only way the stigma of discussing mental illness will be eliminated is by talking about it. keep learning bout it, keeping asking questions, keep listening, and keep the conversation going.

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