Mental health, like physical health, is something that we all have, yet speaking openly about mental health is not always easy.
While as a society, there may be more awareness around mental health struggles, most people still find it difficult to talk openly about mental health face-to-face.
However, small chats with your friends, colleagues, and family members can go a long way to making sure you have a place to talk honestly about your feelings.
Small Talks is about taking the time to have these conversations and ensuring that we all make ourselves available to listen. With a few simple guides, we can all positively impact the mental health of those around us.
In your day-to-day chats, check in with those around you and make an effort to ask people how they are doing
Try and make sure you are somewhere you feel comfortable – this could be at home or going for a walk
Try asking people how they’re doing every time you get to talk and catch up properly
If you’re concerned about someone, then be sure to find time to ask them how they’re doing
“I’m fine” can be an instant response when people ask how we’re doing. Asking a second time can lead to a more honest and open response.
As well as asking “how are you doing?” as a natural conversation opener, try following with, “how have you been feeling?”
Opening up can be daunting, so be patient and allow them to do so
Allow people the time needed to talk about their feeling. It may not come all at once, but make sure you’re letting them say what they need to.
We all like to respond to what people tell us, but it is crucial to make sure we’re not cutting people off when they’re trying to open up
Continue asking questions that invite people to share more
Ask if there is anything you can do to help
Don’t stop with one chat. Remember to continue checking in to see how those closest to you are doing.
Evie is a Y Perform Leader at YMCA Yorkshire Coast. She has attended YMCA since she was 7 years old and now, aged 20, is employed to support young people.
“My anxiety began when I was 14 years old. It was at school that I noticed I was starting to get overwhelmed and didn’t know how to control it. For years, I suffered in silence. I wouldn’t discuss the feelings I was having with anyone, and when my anxiety was bad, I tended to shut off.
Talking to people about my mental health made me feel less anxious. It felt like the biggest weight off my shoulders when I finally opened up.
YMCA has helped me in doing that. It is a safe space where I feel confident to speak about my feelings. On top of that, it has activities that can help with your mental health. I started performing in the theatre, and being on stage made me forget all about my anxiety.
I know from my experience what a difference talking made to my anxiety, so remember; Small Talks can make a big difference.”
Evie - YMCA Yorkshire Coast
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