In this hyper-competitive and complex urban world we inhabit, mental health issues are all too common. Relationship issues, academic worries, career distress, and financial issues often occupy our mental space and energy. In an ideal world, we would be able to talk about mental health challenges such as anger, anxiety, depressive moods or other unhelpful emotions. But this is easier said than done.
Every day, one hears of violence, either directed inwards or outwards, by people who are suffering from mental health issues in silence. Despite experts’ best efforts, mental illness is still stigmatised by society. The belief that mental health is a fad and that only “insane” people go to therapists or psychiatrists also makes people feel scared and awkward about having conversations about mental health .
Why Talking about Mental Health is Important
All of us have the right to convey our thoughts and opinions without inhibition, to air our feelings, and to portray our emotions without feeling judged. However, this fundamental right can be violated if we are in an environment that lacks empathy and understanding – which can include your home or workplace.
Humans are social creatures. Our success as a species stems from our ability to communicate and collaborate to solve problems. Whether we are suffering from physical health issues or mental health ones, sharing our feelings with somebody is the first step towards receiving help and recovering from the problem.
How to Talk about Mental Health Without Awkwardness
1. Write down your thoughts
If you don’t feel ready to talk to a friend or a mental health expert, you can jot your issues down on a sheet of paper or a diary. Documenting might help you organise your thoughts and reflect on the issues you face.
2. Find someone you trust
The easiest way to begin is to reach out to people whom you know well and trust. If you don’t feel judged, you are more likely to speak your mind without holding back. Avoid approaching people who already are extremely caught up in their busy schedules. They might not be able to spare time to pay enough attention to your issues, which can leave you feeling worse.
3. Use technology to reach out
In some situations, having a face-to-face conversation might feel uncomfortable or impede your chances of venting your thoughts. In such cases, technology can be a useful ally. So make a quick phone call or text a trusted friend and tell them how you feel. And once you feel more at ease, you can consider meeting them in person.
4. Prepare yourself for the conversation
Whether you reach out to a friend, family member or a mental health professional, plan the conversation. Decide how much you want to share and what topics, if any, are off limits. Also determine what the other person’s role should be: do you want them just to listen or to actively help you find a solution?
5. Learn about what to expect when meeting a therapist
People imagine therapy or counselling sessions to be a scary affair. However, psychologists, psychiatrists, or life coaches provide you with judgment-free zones and use various techniques to reduce shyness or awkwardness and put the client at ease. Reading up about the process beforehand can help you feel confident before meeting an expert.
Self-awareness is the key
Much of our awkwardness when talking about mental health can stem from ignorance or misinformation. But there is a plethora of information available on the internet, so why wait? Educating yourself about mental health can banish many of your fears and doubts. Over time, self-education will also help you become a mental health advocate and stop others from spreading stigma about mental health. And thus, you can enable someone else to reach out and seek help for the first time.
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