Ten Benefits of Talking About My Mental Health
In support of Time to Talk Day 2017 I’m writing this post to encourage others to get talking about mental health.
It’s not necessarily easy… but it can make a real difference
Telling other people – be that friends, family members, health professionals, therapists, work colleagues… anyone really – about my experiences of anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and depression hasn’t been easy. Like many, I worried what others would think, what opinions, judgements or assumptions they may form about me. Talking about my mental health, however, really helped me improve my mental health and wellbeing. It helped others to understand and support me, and crucially helped me to better understand myself. Talking has been key to tackling my mental health challenges, and the more I talked the easier it became. Now I’m able to talk about mental health topics to raise awareness, tackle the associated perceptions, and share ideas and learning with others.
One in Four
The statistics show that one in four of us will experience a mental health problem in our lifetime. This means even if you yourself have not experienced any mental ill health, chances are that someone close to you has or currently is experiencing difficulties. There isn’t typically an easy answer to reducing and overcoming mental health problems, if there was then they wouldn’t be so difficult to overcome! A whole range of pressures, stresses, changes and challenges in everyday life can also put a strain on peoples’ mental health and it seems things like anxiety and depression are becoming more common place.
The good news is there’s something everyone can do to help,
and that’s to have a conversation – simply talk and listen.
Let’s talk about mental health
Talking about mental health may be you sharing your experiences and asking for support, or it could mean reaching out to a friend, colleague or loved one that is experiencing difficulties. All you need to do is take a little time to communicate. Face to face is preferable, but it could be over a video or phone call. It doesn’t necessarily mean even talking about the subject of mental health. It could just mean taking the time to check in with the person, see how life is going for them, how they are feeling right now, encouraging them to share a little more than just ‘I’m fine,’ ‘I’m okay’ or ‘I’m good,’ with the awareness that ‘I’m fine’ may not mean they are ‘fine’ at all. A chat over a good cuppa can be a good place to start, or perhaps a gentle walk out in the fresh air.
Time to Talk Day
I’m writing this post on 2nd February 2017, which is the UK’s national Time to Talk Day. A campaign led by Time to Change, a movement of people changing how we all think and act about mental health problems. Through Time to Talk Day they aim to get the nation talking and listening about mental health. For more information, visit the Time to Change website: time-to-change.org.uk
Start a conversation any time and day
You can start a conversation about mental health at any date though, not just on Time to Talk Day. The more we all talk about mental health, the easier it will be to talk about, and the more people will feel they can reach out for support and access the help they need.
Mental Health Support
If you need support now for yourself or someone you know, there are various mental health charities that offer online and printed information, resources and support, including helplines you can call to talk to someone. Find out more in the Smile Being You Resource Directory, in particular within the ‘Mental Health‘ section.
How talking can help
I would like to share with you some of the benefits I have personally experienced from talking about my mental health, to encourage you to start your own conversations.
Talking about my mental health has helped me…
1. Be happier and healthier – Talking to friends, family and therapists has been key in dealing with my mental health challenges and improving my wellbeing & happiness.
2. Gain a better understanding of how I think, feel & behave – Taking time to reflect has helped me build more self-awareness, then identify and make positive changes.
3. Build a better support network – By telling friends, family & people I trust, I’ve given them the opportunity to be there for me – If people don’t know, they’ve no chance to help.
4. Feel able to tell friends when ‘I’m just having a bad day’ – I can tell a friend I’m having a tough day or a little dip and they’ll understand, without me needing to fully explain.
5. Quieten some of the negative mental chatter – Talking can help me get some welcomed head space from the over thinking and rumination my head likes to do!
6. Talk more – I’ve found the more I talk about my mental health, the easier this becomes. Writing about my mental health also helps too.
7. Raise awareness – By sharing my own story I’m helping others better understand mental health conditions, all helpful for reducing the associated stigma.
8. Encourage others to share – Often when I talk about my own challenges, others open up about their experiences too, which it turn is a good reminder no one is alone in this.
9. Share ideas and suggestions with others – I am now drawing upon my own learning, knowledge and experiences to help other people enhance their wellbeing and happiness.
10. Be myself – Talking about my mental health has helped increase my self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-compassion and self-belief, all helping me live more authentically and happily….. and ultimately ‘smile more being me!’
I hope I’ve encouraged you to make time to talk about mental health and to reach out to those around you. To listen or be listened to.
Talking could make a real difference.
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