Most people want to appear like we have it all together, so we talk about what’s going well in our lives. But what about when we’re struggling with a difficult time in our life? The reality is that everyone faces ups and downs.
Whether is Bell Let’s Talk, Canadian Mental Health Association’s Ask About Suicide partnership with London Drugs, or celebrities sharing their challenges, there is a new openness to talking about mental health. This is so important, because every year one in five Canadians will have a mental health problem or illness. About half of them will not talk about it with family and friends, and that may keep them from getting the help they need. The more we talk about mental health, the more we make it safe for people to speak up when they are struggling.
Regular people like you can be the one to reach out first and start an important conversation. Here are three ways you could start a conversation with someone who seems to be struggling.
- Describe what you are seeing
Keep it straight-forward and without judgement. “I’ve noticed lately that you have been away a lot. It’s made me wonder if you’re ok?”
- Offer your own experience
“I had a really hard time when I was first home alone with a new baby. How are you doing?”
- Talk about the trends
When we show how common mental health struggles are, it makes it safer for others to talk. “People I know are really stressed out about debt and the cost of living, especially this time of year. Is that something that bothers you?”
Whatever words you use, reaching out to someone who is having a hard time is always the right thing to do. And it might just be what they need to hear. If you want more ideas or resources, visit www.cmha.bc.ca.
By Maya Russell, CMHA BC Division