The discrimination of mental health is slowing ending; however, there are times we still face judgment, shame and isolation that surrounds having to experience mental health problems. While the past was much more difficult – especially for women – we still have a long way to go in changing perceptions. Together, we can continue breaking the stigma around mental health.
We get it – opening up and expressing personal feelings can be daunting, therefore so many people keep things in. However, asking for help is crucial for the road to healing. Feb. 6, 2022, Time to Talk Day, draws attention to mental health and the importance of reaching out for help. The day aims to help people open up and be honest about mental health, without the fear and stigma attached to the conversation.
Five facts about Time to Talk Day:
1. Mental health issues affect millions
One in 4 people will suffer from mental health problem this year.
2. The stigma
Nine out 10 people who experience mental health problems say they face stigma and discrimination because of it.
3. Suicide rates
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.
4. Children aren’t immune
Children at a very young age may show early warning signs of mental health concerns.
5. Mental health prevention
Addressing known risk factors, such as exposure to trauma and educational and sociological factors, can possibly prevent mental health problems.
Tips for talking:
Send a text message
A face-to-face conversation may be too intimidating; a good old text message may do the trick.
- “I have some important things on my mind and really need someone to discuss them with.”
- “I am really going through a hard time. Do you have the capacity to listen?”
- “I am struggling with my mental health and need to get things off my chest.”
Seek a professional
It may start with a counselor, psychiatrist or therapist. Sometimes it is easier to speak with a professional. They can help figure out what exactly is going on and how to start getting you the help you need.
What if someone asks for your help on their mental health?
- Listen. Let them finish their sentences and complete thoughts without interrupting. After they have finished, you can respond.
- Let them know if you understand. If you have gone through something similar, let the person know. It can be extremely comforting to know they are not alone. Just don’t switch the topic completely to your struggles – focus on their needs
- Avoid being judgmental. This is self-explanatory.
- Take them seriously. Do not respond with statements that minimize how they are feeling or what they are going through, such as, “You’re just having a bad week,” or “I’m sure it’s nothing.”
- Make yourself available to talk again if needed. Let the person who has spoken with you know that they can reach out to you again if they are having a tough time. It’s okay to let them know if there is a time of day or certain days of the week that you aren’t available. For example, “I am here for you, but I don’t have much access to my phone during the week. I am not ignoring you – I always respond when I am able.” Sometimes extra reassurance can go a long way.
- Don't turn what you've been told into gossip. It took a lot of courage for them to open up. Keep it to yourself – it is not your information to share with others.
- Reach out for help. It’s important to have friends that trust you, but if a friend indicates they have thoughts or plans of hurting themselves or another person, have been hearing voices or seeing things that no one else can hear or see, or have any other signs and symptoms that shouldn’t be ignored, you need to speak to a professional.. It will not make you a bad friend.
If someone you know is in crisis and needs help urgently, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text 741741, go to your local Emergency Room or call 911.