• Question: @all what would you suggest to do if you didn't feel comfortable talking to someone about mental health issues

    Asked by anon-216739 to Robert, Olly, Nicola, Jasmin, Dennis, Caroline on 16 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Dennis Relojo-Howell

      Dennis Relojo-Howell answered on 16 Jun 2019:

      Hi five353pie. Around 28% of people in England (that’s more than a third) are not comfortable talking about mental health, according to one source (https://www.mentalhealthtoday.co.uk/nearly-a-third-of-people-still-feel-uncomfortable-talking-about-mental-health-problems-survey-finds). It’s a huge issue, so you cannot expect everyone talking about it. Until now, I don’t talk about my mental health issues in public.

      As a mental health blogger, I found that many people find it easier to express themselves in writing. When you share your mental health story online you don’t have to be reveal your identity (You don’t have to tell your name or where you live).

      Do you know the mental health charity, Mind? They provide an opportunity for people to share their mental health stories (https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/your-stories/). I do the same for my blog (https://www.psychreg.org/mental-health-stories/). Blogging is a good way to start talking about mental health.

      But of course, once you’re ready, you have to talk about it face-to-face. And seek the help of a mental health professional.

    • Photo: Nicola Johnstone

      Nicola Johnstone answered on 16 Jun 2019:

      As a scientist, I think that if you are worried about something, it’s best to get it out there sooner rather than later. Thoughts and expectations are usually no where near as bad as we think they might be when we are worried (this is taught in CBT). But, if it’s very difficult to speak about things writing them down or drawing them out can help as a starting point, and could be shared with someone you trust.

    • Photo: Caroline Brett

      Caroline Brett answered on 17 Jun 2019:

      A lot of people don’t feel comfortable talking about mental health issues, particularly if they’ve not done it before. We’re always a bit nervous about things that we’ve not done before, particularly when they can be so personal.
      If you’re experiencing mental health issues then it is really important to talk to someone about it as then they can support you – there’s that old saying “a problem shared is a problem halved” and there is certainly evidence to support that in terms of talking to others and seeking support. However, sometimes it can be difficult to find the words.
      One suggestion might be to arrange a time to meet with a friend/family member (whoever you have chosen to share with), when it’s just the two of you, and make a plan to speak to them then. If you don’t manage to (it takes courage, after all), then that’s OK as at least you’ve spent the time with them (which can be very beneficial). If you do – great!
      In terms of speaking to someone about their mental health issues (i.e. the other side of the coin), this can also be difficult if you’re not used to it but the main thing is to be supportive and non-judgemental. You may not totally understand what they’re going through but you can listen to how they’re feeling.
      There is also some excellent brief online training from Zero Suicide Alliance, which although focussed on preventing suicide specifically, gives some useful pointers for how to start the conversation, and where to signpost people to:

    • Photo: Robert Dempsey

      Robert Dempsey answered on 17 Jun 2019:

      I think you can generally talk to someone without having to straight away talk about the issue that you’re concerned about. Having a sense of social support and generally being able to talk to others can help. I think there’s a lot of fear and shame people associate with talking about mental health related issues (whether this is something you’re experiencing or more generally talking about mental health-related matters) – I think you’d be surprised at how open and willing people are to talk about what is concerning them, often its all in our expectancies that others may not understand, laugh or dismiss us, which is probably unlikely to happen. I would be careful using online sources as anyone can publish things online relating to mental health (there’s little fact-checking or editing of online content) and I am aware of some poor advice being given online. You don’t always need to talk to a mental health professional, talking to friends, family members, neighbours, or people in your community is a good start.

    • Photo: Jasmin Moon

      Jasmin Moon answered on 17 Jun 2019: last edited 17 Jun 2019 11:06 am

      It can be a really difficult subject to talk about, so it’s completely normal to feel that way.
      However, most people I spoke to that initially found it hard to open up about how they feel were surprised by the positive and supportive reaction they got.
      So, my advice would be to give it a try with someone you trust, you don’t have to go into lots of detail but could just ‘test the water’ by saying something like “I’ve been feeling a bit low/anxious/worried recently” and see what kind of reaction you get. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised as lots of people feel the same way but don’t often talk about it either! Mental health is nothing to be ashamed of and you deserve to feel listened to, so I wish you all the best 🙂