Although it seems difficult, talking about mental health doesn’t have to be. At Training for Life, we understand that not being able to talk about mental health problems is one of the hardest parts of the struggle.
Whether this be because of underlying stigmas, no comfortable or safe space to do so, or you don’t want to feel like a burden, talking is better than bottling it up no matter what. There are a multitude of benefits to opening up about any issues, not just for you but for those around you too.
Being mental health aware is a powerful tool in today’s world; our My Whole Self section contains resources to show how it’s beneficial and how you can become mental health aware.
Positive Results from Talking About Mental Health
Break Down Stereotypes & Remove Stigma
By motivating each other to talk about mental health, it will eventually become the norm. This ultimately breaks down the stereotype that talking about mental health is a taboo and removes the stigma which causes people to feel discomfort. Talking about mental health should – and will – feel comfortable for everyone.
Talking things through with someone you trust helps build a stronger relationship with this person. This pushes you both to turn to each other for support in the future and will put you in a better position to spot if each other might be struggling.
Opening up and talking about mental health can feel like a relief. It sees you creating a safe space for future discussion, helping build your confidence to continue using this coping mechanism. Also, it will make you feel safer and less alone, therefore protecting your mental health and preventing future problems.
This practice is encouraged in your personal environment as well as your workplace. So much so, Mental Health First Aid England run a campaign dedicated to this called “My Whole Self.”
What is My Whole Self?
My Whole Self has been designed to inspire workplace culture change and make every member of staff feel comfortable bringing their whole self to work. No one should feel like they have to hide parts of themselves; employees should feel comfortable in a space they spend the majority of their daily lives in.
Creating inclusive workplaces and building relationships with your staff where they feel comfortable to talk about mental health ultimately makes them feel more valued and safer. 29% of employees never discuss mental health in meetings with their line manager (My Whole Self Survey, March 2021), and this needs to change.
Here are some tips from the My Whole Self campaign to help colleagues talk about mental health:
Choosing a Setting
- Choose a verbal form of communication; face-to-face, video call or over the phone
- Choose an environment your employee is comfortable with; this could be outside of the workplace or while they’re working from home
- Allocate enough time so neither of you are feeling rushed to finish or that you don’t have enough time
- Reduce distractions and interferences by turning off notifications and putting your phone/device on silent
During the Conversation
- If the conversation is over video call, encourage cameras to be turned on as seeing each other’s body language will help you form a stronger connection
- Be aware of your body language; make sure it’s open and non-confrontational
- Give them your full focus, don’t interrupt and take notice of their words, tone of voice and body language as this will help understand how they’re feeling
- Show empathy and that you’re taking them seriously; never use throwaway advice or language like “pull yourself together” or “cheer up.” Instead, show respect and put yourself in their shoes, using phrases like “I understand how difficult this must be” and “I am so glad that you are telling me about this”
After the Conversation
- Share any sources of support you have available through HR or workplace mental health training
- Discuss the importance of self-care and what things they can do to boost their wellbeing, both at home and in the workplace
- If you are worried about someone’s mental health, encourage them to speak to their GP or call 111
At Training for Life, we encourage everyone to become mental health aware. Talking about mental health enables this and brings benefits to yourself as well as everyone around you.
Get in touch with us today to see how we can help you.