Things To Consider When Talking To A Person With Low Mental Health – Guest Post
For my first guest post of the year the lovely Charlotte who writes at https://charlotteunderwoodauthor.com/ has written about the things we should consider when talking to a person with low mental health.
Charlotte first shared a really really powerful piece about why mental health is just as important as physical health.
Things To Consider When Talking To A Person With Low Mental Health
Mental health is part of being human. We all have a responsibility to ourselves and to those around us to ensure that our mental well-being is maintained.
Not one person deserves to live with the adverse effects of living with mental ill health and the stigma that comes along with it.
A big part of looking after mental health in general, is looking at the language we use and the way that we approach the subject.
While words may not leave you a physical wound, they can leave a wound that may fester or bleed in your mind; it’s just as dangerous.
A lot of us mean well, and as much as we see a lot of stigma and ignorance surrounding mental health. There are also a lot of people out there who just want to help.
We probably all have said things in the past that we said to help but it had an adverse reaction, it doesn’t make you a bad person but it can show you just how complex and unpredictable mental health can be.
It’s never too late to learn from our past and to adapt for the future. We can do this by just being a tad more thoughtful before we talk to or about a person with low mental health.
While I cannot speak for the whole population, I can speak from experience, so this is what I believe would help a person more, when a conversation on mental health was bought up.
When you want to tell a person that “It’ll be fine”, remember that some people have a history in which things have not been fine and therefore they cannot trust that comment.
You can instead say “What can I do to help?”.
When you have nothing to say to a person other than “I’m sorry”, it can often sound dismissive to a person who is really struggling to get their words out.
Try to encourage conversation, avoid dead-end phrases and ask “Do you want to talk about it” or simply let them know you are there for them.
If you struggle to understand a person and you say “I don’t know what I can do to help”. It could be that the person just wanted to talk and now they may feel bad for doing so.
You could instead simply listen to them and ask “can you help me to understand?”.
When you are frustrated and you tell a person to “calm down” or “stop overreacting”. It can often lead to further feelings of rejection and can lead to isolation.
You could instead try “Would you like a drink, or a blanket” or “Do you know what triggered you?”.
When you talk over a person, or throw labels of mental illness at them, it can be so overwhelming.
In situations where a person is reaching out, let them talk and don’t assume their mental health.
Allow them space and just provide little conversation prompts such as “do you want to talk about it” or “I am here to listen, it’s ok”.
Taking time to understand the situation and what the person needs can make a huge difference in their confidence to seek help, and can raise their chances of finding recovery.
You don’t need to sacrifice anything that a listening ear and some time.
I think an easy way to think about this is to think about the times that you have felt patronised, judged or rejected and work with that.
Do the opposite and take the time to learn what works and what doesn’t work for people with low mental health, there are plenty of threads and discussions online!
The simple thing to remember is language matters, so take a moment to asses and really listen to the situation before offering an opinion.
Charlotte is a 23-year-old from Norfolk. She is a growing mental health advocate and likes to use writing to inform and support.
On her blog you can keep up to date with her written work, both self published and through other means.
She posts a lot about mental health, depression, anxiety and suicide as she wants to raise awareness as well as end the stigma.
You can find out more about Charlotte here.