This year’s impacted all of us in one way or another and we’re continuing to struggle with COVID-19 and our mental well-being. If you’re looking to lend support to a mate you think isn’t keeping well, here are a few conversation tips to help you check in on them.
Unfortunately, not everyone is comfortable talking about their mental health problems and even more so, not everyone believes they’re equipped to help others address their well-being concerns. That’s not due to a lack of empathy — it’s simply because it can be overwhelming not knowing what to say or do. You want to get it right and not make things worse.
Considering one in five (20 per cent) Aussies experience mental health illness each year — most commonly depression, anxiety and substance use disorder — you know it’s likely someone you’re friends with or related to might be suffering.
While R U OK? Day and World Suicide Prevention Day are important to help raise mental health awareness and continue the conversation in public spotlight, we’re dealing with well-being concerns on the daily. Don’t wait for a specific day to reach out to your loved one.
Conversation tips to help you support your mate
While your mate getting professional help is an important step, what comes before shouldn’t be overshadowed either. It’s that first, meaningful conversation that can really help a friend out and it starts with a simple, “how are doing?”
If you’re feeling overwhelmed about asking someone how they’re doing, just know all you need to do is listen and not force your mate to do anything or feel anything they’re not ready for. According to Beyond Blue, there are three easy steps to have a conversation.
Ask if they want to talk about it. It might be that they don’t want to and that’s ok too. Maybe you’re not the right person for them to talk to, but you can make some suggestions.
Listen. Silence may seem awkward at first but think of it as a chance for both of you to gather your thoughts. If you’re finding it difficult to understand what they’re talking about, it’s okay to ask them to explain further.
Support is the most important thing you can offer and if they refuse, help them explore their options for how they could begin to feel better.
Mental health first aid course
It may not be common knowledge — I didn’t know about it until a few weeks ago — but there are mental health first aid courses available in Australia to help you help someone out. They can teach you how to assist a loved one experiencing a mental health or substance use-related crisis, what to say and what the warning signs are until you can get them to turn for help.
If you know a mate who might need help, refer them to a psychologist who does telehealth appointments. If they’re not ready to talk on the phone, there’s also a list of places that offer alternative support.
If you aren’t feeling great and you need to talk to someone, remember: you are not alone. There are people just on the other side of the phone waiting to speak to you — just call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue on 1300 22 4636.