Excerpt shared with permission from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
You don't need special training to have an open, authentic conversation about mental health – and often, just talking about it can be the first important step in understanding where someone is with their mental health, and helping them get support or treatment if needed.
Here are some quick pointers you can use for having a #RealConvo with the people in your life.
Let people know you're willing to talk about #MentalHealth.
The easiest way to let people know you're willing to talk about mental health is to be open about your own. Try to think of it in the same way you think about your physical health. Allow it to come up naturally in conversation in the same way.
If you've seen a mental health professional in the past, when the subject comes up, you might say, in your own words:
I've had times in my life when I've struggled. I went to talk to someone, and it really helped me.
A casual reference like the one above can have a powerful effect, letting others know you're a safe person to talk to if they ever need to reach out.
What can you say to someone you think may be struggling?
Trust your gut if you think someone's having a hard time, and speak to them privately. Start with an expression of care, followed by an observation.
I care about you and I've noticed you haven't been yourself lately. You seem more frustrated than you've been in a while, and I'm wondering how you're doing.
Normalize mental health by talking about it directly.
I wonder if what's happening at work these days is stressing you out.
With everything that's going on in your family, I wonder if you're feeling overwhelmed.
Let them know you get it, and that it's okay – and normal – to struggle in response to life's challenges.
I've been through things in my life, too, and what I've often found is that talking about it helps. Whatever it is, I'm here to listen and support you.
Read more …
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call 1-800-273-8255
or text "Hello" to 741741.
Missouri Lawyers' Assistance Program (MOLAP): 1-800-688-7859
Illinois Lawyers' Assistance Program: 312-726-6607