Mental health has always had a shroud of silence around it, but we're working with Mind HK to break down some of these barriers. This week, find out how to start a conversation with a loved one or friend.
From international events to raging nightclubs and bars that are open 24/7, Hong Kong is a place where most people are busy, busy, busy. Because of this fast-paced life, it’s easy for many to end up feeling stressed out, anxious or lonely, and we want to help equip you with some tips on how to talk about mental health with your loved ones. Luckily, the fabulous team at Mind HK has put together some easy strategies for you to follow if you see someone you love struggling to cope.
Let’s talk about mental health
It can sound scary, and all too often people shy away from it, but talking about mental health with someone doesn’t mean you are going to end up in an intense, hour long conversation with them that feels like you are suddenly a therapist. Nor does it mean that you are going to somehow make things worse. There are many misconceptions about what will happen, if we just ask someone how they are doing.
Mind HK regularly supports Time to Talk Day, a UK wide initiative. The day asks you to speak out about how you are feeling, and ask others about their emotions as well. But how do we start that conversation?
How to talk about mental health
Here are some starter points that might make it easier.
- Choose an appropriate setting, and enough time that you can finish any conversation you start (10 minutes will normally be plenty!)
- Simply asking ‘How are you doing?’, or ‘What’s on your mind?’ can really help
- Be aware they might not want to talk about it, and respect that
- Be supportive if they do open up, and think about how you might be able to help them in a practical way that feels manageable for you
- Keep your body language open, friendly and calm
- Be empathetic and make sure you are taking them seriously
- Take into account cultural differences in communication styles
- After you’ve had a chat, make sure that you treat the person as normal, and perhaps offer alternative gestures like making a cup of tea, or sending an extra message to them as needed
- If you are concerned about them, remember firstly that this means that you can now advise them to access help, where before you had no idea (and perhaps no one in the world had any idea) that something was wrong
Mind HK also offers comprehensive guides on a range of mental health and wellbeing topics here.