Mental Health Awareness Week: Day 3

5 questions to ask to help people talk about their mental health

Mental health can be a tricky topic to approach with someone but you shouldn't avoid the subject just because you may feel awkward talking about it. 

Asking questions can be a way to show that you care and also opens up the conversation if people would like to talk about their problems. Here we show some questions which can be used to start a conversation.

1. How have you been?

"How are you?" is the most commonly asked phrase and is always answered by "Fine, thanks" without any real conversation about how they actually are feeling. This question could be asked again later in the conversation so the other person knows that they care. Alternatively, this can be approached by saying something you have observed, like "I haven't seen you at the gym lately" or "I have noticed you haven't been seeing your friends". Giving them time to answer without any interruptions shows you are there to listen if they want to.

2. Have you been eating and sleeping?

Sometimes, people feel more comfortable sharing that they have had a change in their normal routine such as "I haven't been eating much lately" or "I'm not sleeping well" which are things that can be affected by mental health. Showing empathy to these types of statements, shows that it is a safe space for them to expand further and you are there to listen. A phrase which can be used to show this could be "That must have been really tough, have you spoken to a doctor about this?".

3. Is there anything you want to talk about?

Sometimes people need to feel that they are in a safe space to talk about their mental health. Asking this conversation can show that you are there to listen if it will be a worthwhile and meaningful chat. Sometimes people might not want to talk about it then, but they know you are there to listen if they want to talk about it in the future.

4. What can I do for you?

The simplest of things can be seem like the hardest of tasks when someone is suffering with mental health so asking if you can help can feel like a weight has been lifted. These can include things such as collecting groceries, daily messages to them or coming round to make them a cup of tea. 

5. When shall I check in with you again?

Because you may be worried about someone, asking them too much how they are may cause the opposite effect from your intentions. Asking them, how often they like to be checked in on will show that you care but also don't want to over-step the mark. Be sincere in saying what you will do and make sure you follow up. Even mentioning "I'll message you in a couple of days" can be a bit less overwhelming than saying "I'll ring you everyday". Let the person who is suffering let you know when is best for them.

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