World Mental Health Day
First celebrated in 1992, World Mental Health Day is a global day focussing on ‘mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma’. It was set up by the World Federation for Mental Health.
This years’ theme is ‘Mental health is a universal human right’. The day gives us an opportunity to talk about mental health, how we need to look after it, and how important it is to get help if you are struggling.
Mental Health Foundation (UK)
In the UK, the leading charity for mental health is the Mental Health Foundation.
Their vision is to create a world with good mental health for all. They aim to identify and address the sources of mental health issues so that people and communities can thrive.
They have shared their top tips for talking about mental health:
Talking about your mental health
- Choose someone you trust to talk to
This might be a friend, family member or a colleague. Or you might be more comfortable talking to someone you don’t know, for example, through a support helpline. It can help to do a pros and cons list about talking to someone.
- Think about the best place to have the conversation
It’s important to choose a place where you feel comfortable enough to open up. You might want to choose somewhere private where you’re less likely to be disturbed. You also might want to talk while you do an activity, like walking, together.
- Prepare yourself for their reaction
Hopefully, you will have a good experience when you open up to someone. But there’s a chance that they may not react in the way you hope. This may be because they may be worried or not fully understand at first. In such cases, try to give them time to process what you’ve told them. It might help to give them information to read to help them understand. And don’t forget to be kind to yourself and practise self-care.
Talking to someone about their mental health
- Find a good space to talk without distractions
If you’re worried about someone, try to find a place where you know you can have a conversation without being distracted. Make sure to give them your full attention. It might help to switch off your phone.
- Listen actively and ask questions
Listening can be one of the most valuable ways to be there for someone. Show them that you’re actively listening by facing them, making eye contact, and not interrupting. Questions can help you clarify what they mean and also show that you’re actively listening. But make sure the questions are relevant to what they’re saying, and not changing the subject.
- Ask how you can help
Ask how you can help or make suggestions, rather than telling them what to do next. They might want support with making a GP appointment, help with household tasks, or just for you to keep things normal and chat about what’s going on in your life.
Love Your Gut
Don’t forget the link between your gut and brain known as the gut-brain axis. Studies have reported that certain foods can improve your mood1 . You can find out more about these in our Food Mood and Symptoms Diary.
- Huang Q et al. (2019) Linking What We Eat to Our Mood: A Review of Diet, Dietary Antioxidants, and Depression. Antioxidants, 8(9): 376.