Helping you get through tough times

Two-way conversation about mental health

May is the month of the Green Ribbon campaign, to get Ireland talking about mental health. Let’s get this conversation started, right?

Green RibbonWhen I was 14 years-old my best friend told me, “If someone asks you ‘How’s it going?’ You’re supposed to say ‘Fine.’ not ‘Well not great actually, because…’ the way you do”.

It was meant to be a valuable social lesson in how to fit in. In a way, it was. Not everyone needs to know what’s going wrong, or why, at any given time.

A hundred ways to ask “How are you?” But, there’s only one way to answer; “Grand”. That’s us, that’s the Irish way apparently.

Encouraging conversation

With ReachOut.com, and campaigns like Green Ribbon, we try to encourage conversation, get a dialogue going about mental health. But, by the same token, we need to make sure we know how and when to listen.

Most of us recognise that talking about tough times is important. Getting things out in the open can be the best thing for you. Don’t bottle things up. But, who you open up to and how you do it is equally as important.

Who you talk to

Talking doesn’t have to be about going to see a counsellor or a doctor, though great if you can. It’s not an option for a lot of us. It can be expensive or there maybe none near you. You may have had a bad experience with one, or you just didn’t feel you could open up to them. It happens.

Family or friends can be just as helpful. So we can also be support for our friends and family. Therefore, how we are when someone opens up to us is very important.

How to listen

You could be the person a friend or family member comes to for support when they’re going through something tough and so you need to be as understanding as possible. There are useful ways to listen to someone to make them feel heard and understood.

If someone tells you at three in the morning after a rake of drinks that they’ve been struggling a bit recently, you could be the first person they’ve told. Acknowledge it, but, maybe suggest talking about it again, when you’re able to take it in better and give them the time.

Clear expression

There are effective ways to communicate that we all could do with knowing, to make sure we all express ourselves clearly. Remember, it can also be quite overwhelming when someone opens up to you for the first time, so make sure you look after yourself too.

My friend was right, even though it’s not really what she meant, but there can be a better time and place. Let’s get everyone talking about mental health, but equally let’s be ready and know how to listen.

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