Mental health: Switching the conversation
A guide to overcoming mental health stigma
It is very common for children, youth, and adults to experience poor mental health at different times in our lives. Yet, the levels of stigma and discrimination that exist in society are still high. With the global pandemic, COVID-19, children and youth have experienced elevated levels of stress, fear, and poor mental health caused by social distancing, fear of the coronavirus, unemployment and the constant worries that arose from the unclear situation.
The pressure of mental illness stigma can come from family, friends, colleagues, and society on a broader level, all of which will cause exclusion, stand in the way of recovery and will stop individuals from seeking the help they need.
One question at a time, let’s break the stigma of mental health and create an inclusive culture that encourages people of any age to seek help when they need it. For a healthier life for all children, youth and their families, let’s switch the conversation: if you ask “are you okay”, wait for the answer and be sincere – let’s not use it as a casual conversation starter.
Are you okay?
How are you really feeling?
What’s on your mind?
How to talk to a friend who is struggling with their mental health without reinforcing stereotypes?
Communication is a key tool in any form of relationships, and that is no different when talking to a friend, family member or someone we know who shared their thoughts, feelings and their mental health difficulties with us. While we might not always have answers and provide professional assistance, being a good and sincere listener is a great start to helping them. Learn about indicators and warning signs of mental health here.
However, it is often challenging, and you might feel trapped when trying to choose the right words to say to someone who has opened up to you about their mental health struggles.
Here are some tips on how to switch the conversation and talk to someone who is struggling with their mental health, or a friend who is going through depression.
Conversation starters to let your loved ones know that you are there for them:
While you are having the conversation, some words might come off a bit too strong to someone who is experiencing a mental health difficulty, here are some suggestions to what words to use and what to avoid.
Based on the MHPSS report, stigma and fear of being labeled as mentally unwell have played a role in reducing adolescents' participation and utilization of mental health services in Jordan.
Listen carefully to what your friend is trying to tell you without reinforcing stereotypes: