Time to Talk Day: How to open up about mental health issues

This Time to Talk Day, get our useful tips on how to start a conversation about your mental health.

Today is Time to Talk Day, but it’s not always easy to talk about how we are feeling. However, if you know how to approach the topic, we are sure you will feel much better after getting it off your chest.

You can choose who you speak to – be it a friend or a family member, a GP or an anonymous phone call to a helpline. But please, please give opening up about your mental health a try if you are struggling to cope. It will help – and  it is much simpler than we think.

Here are a few tips on how to start the conversation about mental health issues:

Opening up to a loved one:

Time to Talk day 2019 - opening up to loved one

This can be a friend, partner or a family member – anyone you trust and feel comfortable around. You might not have opened up to that person before – maybe you were worried you would be a burden, or seen as ‘weak’, or that they might treat you differently. But if you think about how you would feel if that person came to you looking for support or a person to talk to – would you feel that way about them? You would want to help them – and they will feel exactly the same about you.

Here are some starting points to help you:

  • A simple text to say ‘hey, can you call me please? Could do with a chat’ can be a real light-hearted way to get the conversation started.
  • You could arrange to see this person for a coffee, or go for a walk, or anywhere at all that you feel comfortable to talk.
  • Opening up or telling someone you have depression or anxiety doesn’t have to be a grand announcement – it can simply be you saying ‘I haven’t really been feeling myself’ or ‘I’m going through a bit of a tough time at the moment’.
  • When the person responds, listen to what they have to say – they could have gone through something similar, or are still going through it. You can offer each other some really great advice and know that you have each other to turn to.
  • Not everyone will respond in the way you want, and that’s ok. If this happens, please don’t let it put you off trying again. There is always, always someone out there who will listen and care and give you the advice you need.

Opening up to a GP or health professional:

Did you know that over 30% of all GP appointments are due to mental health issues? Our point is – you will not be the first person to come looking for help – and you won’t be the last. There is nothing your GP hasn’t seen before and they will be so pleased you have asked for help.

If you are worried about how your usual GP will react – you can always ask reception to see a doctor who has a special interest in mental health, or if you would rather speak to a man or a woman doctor, this is an option too.

Here are a few bits of advice when seeking help from a GP:

  • Usual appointments are only 10 minutes – you may want to book a double appointment to ensure you are not going to be rushed.
  • Keep a ‘mood diary’ in the days running up to the appointment – think about the emotions or thoughts you are having and discuss these with your doctor.
  • Write down any personal events that have happened or are happening that might be causing you stress or anxiety.
  • Your doctor will make recommendations on the information you provide – this may be therapy, counselling or medication. Remember that you are under no obligation to do anything you are uncomfortable with – if you would rather not have the medication straight away, please inform your doctor of this so they can offer the best advice for you.  
  • Make sure to book a follow up appointment that day so you and your GP can keep a tabs of how you are feeling and if the treatments are working for you.

Calling a helpline:

Any step you make to talk about your mental health is a fantastic, brave and important step to your recovery. And you should be really proud of yourself for making it this far. However, if this is all too much and you don’t think you are ready, there is no shame in that.

We would recommend you call a helpline for some anonymous advice if you ever feel life gets too much – they are free, confidential and extremely helpful if you feel you need a friendly voice to talk to.

Find the helplines here.

And remember, you can text HECTOR to 85258 to speak to one of our understanding, patient and kind volunteers at any time of day or night.

We hope this has helped – please get in touch with us in the comments below or email us with any questions or problems. We are not able to give advice, but we will listen and aid you in getting the help you need.

Remember – you are never alone.

Love always,

The Hector’s House team x

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