Starting the conversation about mental health

Talking about mental health is hard. Addressing mental health issues with someone you know can feel even more nerve-wracking.

If you have concerns about someone’s wellbeing, or are struggling yourself, there are steps you can take to help start the conversation. 

Your mental health

While approaching your friends, family or colleagues about mental health issues may be difficult, it is a proactive self-care measure.

Here are some tips for different situations:

With friends and family

Before discussing your situation with more people, talk through the information you’d like to share and some questions you may be asked with a trusted person, such as a loved one or health professional. Having a “practice run” can help you feel more prepared and less nervous, especially when politely declining to answer particular questions.

At work
If you are dealing with a personal issue that may affect your work, let your manager know. That does not mean that you have to disclose sensitive details, rather, it’s alerting your manager that you may need some time off in the near future. In some cases, your manager may be able to direct you to appropriate support resources available through your workplace.

Feeling isolated
If you are unable to talk to someone in your personal network, consider getting professional support. If you have a family doctor, they can help connect you to counsellors or therapists. If do not prefer to go through your family doctor, or you don’t have one, AbilitiCBT is a great option.

The mental health of others

It can be worrying to see that someone you know is struggling. It is important, however, to understand the balance between respecting boundaries and offering support.

Here are some things you can do:

Express your support
Let them know that it’s okay to not feel okay and reassure them that they should not be afraid to ask for help, and that it’s a sign of strength, not weakness. If this is the first time you’re bringing up the topic, try to be positive and explain that your intentions are only to let them know you care about them.

Keep their confidence
If they share personal information with you, it is important to keep that to yourself and to not gossip with other people. If, however, you have immediate concerns about their safety or the safety of others, call 9-1-1.

Be a good listener
It is not your place to diagnose and prescribe treatment, but you can lend a friendly ear. Be sure to remain non-judgmental, and if they indicate that they may need support, you can direct them to an appropriate resource, such as AbilitiCBT.

If you, or someone you know, has ongoing stress, anxiety, or depression, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with a professional therapist is a great solution to explore. It works by helping you understand and change the thought patterns, emotional responses, and behaviours that are causing problems. 

AbilitiCBT is an internet-based CBT solution that works the same way as traditional CBT, but through a digital platform accessible through an app or a web version. It’s easy to use and accessible 24/7 from any device.