Having supportive conversations
Talking about mental health can be tough, but by opening up the conversation and being there for the people we care about, we can have a big impact.
We’ve worked with local organisation SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY to bring you five helpful tips for having supportive conversations.
The importance of conversations
We understand if someone says they aren’t okay, or if your gut says someone is off their game, it’s not always easy to know what to do next. You may be worried about saying the “wrong words” or making things worse.
The biggest thing to remember is showing up for someone is the main goal. You’re there to create a connection and to remind them they’re not alone.
We won’t always have the perfect words or delivery. Luckily, this isn’t the most important consideration. Showing up for someone and making them feel seen, heard and valued is the goal. We don’t have to do things perfectly to show people we truly care.
Never underestimate the power of showing up for those you care about.
Life gets busy, so it can be tricky to find a spot in your day that’s completely free of responsibilities, ideas and tasks. Instead, let’s look for ways to push our responsibilities aside for a moment (we can always pick them back up shortly) so we can offer someone our undivided attention - even if it’s just 20 seconds of our time to check in.
When we’re engaged in conversation, it’s important to keep our body language in mind and to listen carefully. Listening more than we speak can be beneficial, as it gives the person you’re supporting the space to share how they’re feeling.
Getting the help you need
As a supportive friend, colleague, family member or teammate, it’s not your job to fix someone’s problems. As part of your supportive conversation, chatting about seeking professional support can be a great next step.
Your encouragement and exploration of the services available can be really useful. Ensure the person you’re supporting is making the choices and you’re walking alongside them, rather than dictating the next steps. There are a range of resources available in person, online and over the phone. It may take a few tries, but encourage them to keep going until they find a resource they feel comfortable and safe with and a connection that resonates.
Keep talking about mental health
Mental health isn’t always a topic people feel comfortable chatting about. That’s why it’s so important we build conversations about mental health into our everyday lives. By doing this, we can make it feel more comfortable, build our skills around language and stop the stigma.
It’s also an opportunity to check in with people on any given day, not just when we notice they’re off their game. By nurturing open and supportive relationships, people can feel more confident and comfortable to open up when challenges arise.
It’s important to remember that when you’re supporting others you need to find ways to recharge your own batteries. Finding self-care activities that you enjoy, as well as access to professional support, is important.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate help, please contact 000 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.