We all want to be a good friend to those close to us. Sometimes, checking in on a friend or peer can seem intimidating when conversations can get emotional. To start a productive, positive conversation about mental health, start with these tips.
1. Act Normal
It’s important that conversations about other’s wellbeing feel natural. Don’t wait for a “perfect” moment. If approaching the topic seems difficult to say, try bringing it up while doing something else like getting breakfast, driving in the car or exercising together. The more normal the setting, the less uncomfortable the conversation can feel. Being busy during this also helps fill silences and wrap up the conversation when needed.
2. Ask Twice
“I’m fine,” is the most common response when people are actually not OK. It’s important to take the time to let them know you want to check on their wellbeing because you care. Many will give a quick response to, “how are you?” to be polite. Follow up with, “No really, is everything okay?” Even if they don’t feel ready to talk about it right then, they’ll know you’ll be there if they need someone to talk to.
3. Talk about yourself
Others feel safe when you share your own feelings. You don’t have to talk about a mental health problem, you may not have any experience. But, it’s important to share so they feel comfortable. Sharing a recent worry or something that’s been bugging you will make it clear that you’re happy to talk about feelings with them and are acting out of compassion.
Mental health can be a very daunting topic for many to approach, but we care about the wellbeing of those around us. Keeping these points in mind, approaching a positive conversation can lead to very rewarding places within our health and relationships.