With everything that is happening in the world right now – from coronavirus, to identity politics, to the urgency to take care of our planet (and everything in between) – it is more important than ever that we learn to talk openly about our own and others’ mental health. At the moment, it’s not something we as a culture are great at. It’s not something we generally learn in school and it’s not something many of us witness at home as children. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important. In fact, the opposite is true.
The good news is that right now, the global conversation about mental health is only getting louder. This article and the following six strategies for talking more openly about mental health were written with the intention to add to the conversation and empower readers to take it upon themselves to contribute wherever they feel called. Thank you for reading.
Six Strategies for Talking More Openly about Mental Health
Break the silence. It may seem obvious but it needs to be stated. Silence breeds fear, shame, and loneliness, all of which add to mental health issues. Therefore, first on our list is simply being willing to talk. Share with a friend, a family member, or a colleague when you’re having a hard day or feel stressed and overwhelmed. And vice versa. If you see someone who is obviously upset or having a hard time, ask them if they would like to talk (but be ok if they don’t).
Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Plan ahead and be prepared. Knowing that these conversations won’t always be easy and accepting (rather than avoiding) difficult emotions and challenging conversations will help tremendously. Set yourself up for success by planning to feel occasionally awkward and uncomfortable, especially if mental health is something you aren’t well versed in.
Practice, practice, practice. Like any new skill, having conversations about mental health will take practice and patience. Remember, no one is expecting you to be perfect right from the start, so start small if that feels good to you. Do research, listen to podcasts, follow a few new accounts on social media that are leading the conversation, and then spend a few minutes a day talking to someone you trust about mental health in general (or your own mental health if that feels right). With time, your knowledge will grow and these conversations will get more comfortable.
Be a safe space for others. Lend an ear, show empathy and compassion, and listen just to listen. Don’t try to solve someone else’s problems, don’t try to “fix” them, just be there for them when they need it. The more we are able to be a safe space for others, the more we feel safe to open up and share ourselves.
Arm yourself with tools and resources. After all, preparation is the anecdote to nervousness. Today, in 2021, there are many incredible tools and resources available for learning about mental health, as well as a vast number of amazing people leading the way. Learn where the information and tools are where you live, and then decide how best to use them in your own life.
Remind yourself daily that mental health applies to everyone. Everyone has issues, problems, and stressors. Everyone has good days, bad days, and everything in between. Everybody has the potential to fall into mental spirals and bad habits, as well as the potential to live a balanced and healthful existence. Understanding that no one is immune from mental health issues can be a helpful reminder when you or someone you know is going through something difficult.
Whether you have these conversations on social media, in the workplace, with your friends and family, or to a wider audience, each time we talk about the reality and importance of mental health, we help to normalize something that has been pushed aside for far too long. At The Relationship Therapy Center, we are proud to be helping to pave this path.
If you are someone who is struggling, if you feel lost or alone and simply need someone to talk to, our therapists are here to support you. Now is not the time to keep feelings bottled up inside or to go at the hard things alone; now is the time to take care of yourself. Contact us today to learn more.
Other Services offered at The Relationship Therapy Center in California:
Our Sacramento area counseling clinics located in Roseville and Fair Oaks, CA are pleased to offer a variety of mental health services. We will discuss the importance of self-care and emotional support to help you cope and to discover ways to find healthy ways of dealing with stress.
Mental health counseling can be beneficial, with the right therapist. Our compassionate therapists are trained to walk you through the process and help you find healing and peace. Please contact our therapy office to learn more about the many ways we can help you and your loved ones heal, grow, and love healthy.