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STARTING THE CONVERSATION
Talking about mental health can help you and those around you to be happier and healthier. Take 10 minutes to start a meaningful conversation with a friend, a family member, a colleague or a student about their mental health. We don’t often talk about our mental health so it might seem a little daunting to start a conversation about it but it’s important to remember you don’t have to be an expert.
MHFA England has put together some ideas for how you can start the conversation.
CHOOSING A SETTING:
|Make a hot drink or grab a glass of water. It’s a great way to ask someone a quick ‘how are you’ and ask for a private meeting.|
|Meeting outside the workplace in a neutral space such as a café might feel less intimidating.|
|Give yourself plenty of time so you don’t appear to be in a hurry – 10 minutes may be enough but if you need longer then go ahead.|
|You don’t want to be disturbed so turn your phone off or onto silent.|
|Keep the chat positive and supportive, exploring the issues and how you may be able to help.|
|Keep your body language open and non-confrontational.|
|Be empathetic and take them seriously.|
|Do not offer glib advice such as “pull yourself together” or “cheer up”.|
|Take into account cultural differences in communication styles e.g. how much eye contact is appropriate.|
USEFUL QUESTIONS TO ASK:
|“How are you feeling at the moment?”|
|“How long have you felt like this – is it an ongoing issue?”|
|“Who do you feel you can go to for support?”|
|“Are there any work-related factors which are contributing to how you are feeling? Can you tell me what they are?”|
|“Is there anything we can do to help?”|
HOW TO LISTEN:
|Give the person your full focus and listen without interrupting.|
|Listen to their words, tone of voice and body language – all will give clues as to how they are feeling.|
|Accept them as they are. Respect the person’s feelings, experiences and values, although they may be different to yours. Do not judge or criticise because of your own beliefs and attitudes.|
|Get on their wavelength. Place yourself in the other person’s shoes and demonstrate that you hear and understand what they are saying and feeling.|
|Listen non-judgementally. Be genuine – show that you accept the person and their values by what you say and do.|
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
|Keep the conversation going – follow up and ask them how they are doing. Reassure them that your door is always open, and really mean it. It’s particularly essential to keep in touch with an employee who is off sick.|
|Give reassurance that there are lots of sources of support and some of these might be available through their workplace, such as the HR or Occupational Health department, Employee Assistance Programme or on-site counselling.|
|If you work in a company with limited support services it’s also appropriate to encourage the person to visit their GP for guidance around accessing the NHS funded programme ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies’ (IAPT).|
BUILDING MENTAL HEALTH DOWNLOADABLE VIDEOS
|Crossrail – Recognising the Warning Signs of Poor Mental Health.
Video Length: 2 minutes 19 seconds
|Mace Group – Starting the Conversation in Construction.
Video Length: 3 minutes 32 seconds
|NFDC Practical Toolkit: Mental Health – A Practical Guide|