Starting Conversations about Mental Health

Many people experience a mental health problem, so if a mate says they’re fine, they might not be.

A second ‘how are you?’ can make all the difference.

Ask them twice!

Five tips for supporting someone 

1. Start a conversation  

If you’re concerned about someone, the first thing to do is to check in. It can be as simple as a text: just make sure they know you really want to know how they’re doing.   

2. Listen and reflect 

Give the person space to explain what they’re going through. Try not to make any assumptions about their experience based on other things you’ve seen and read. Asking open questions can be helpful: these are questions that invite people to expand, rather than respond with just ‘yes’ or no.  

Examples of open questions include: 

“How have you been feeling?”   “What’s that like for you?” 

3. Be patient  

It might take a while for the person to feel comfortable talking about what they’re going through, or there might be periods where they’re less communicative. That’s understandable: sometimes, if you’re experiencing a mental health problem, it’s harder to be sociable.  

It might feel frustrating if you’re putting in effort, but try and be patient. They probably appreciate you being in touch even if they’re not responding. 

4. Be yourself 

Even if they’re having a hard time, they’re still the same person you know and love. Don’t treat them differently – keep including them in social activities and offer to do the things you’d normally do with them.  

5. Ask how you can help 

Give them space to say what they need from you. This might be a regular check-in, a particular activity, or help with practical things. Mental health problems can be draining, so they might be finding it hard to keep up with everyday tasks. If it seems appropriate, anything you can help with.