Make time to talk about mental health

06 February 2020

In her latest blog for us, Beth Britton looks at the value of starting conversations to enable people struggling with their mental health to feel more supported

Although it sounds simple, talking about your mental health can be really difficult. Historical stigma, fears of being unkindly labelled, worries your feelings may be trivialised, and concerns that someone you open up to might forever think differently about you are amongst the many reasons why people don’t want to talk about their mental health.

Today’s Time to Talk Day aims to change this narrative by encouraging people to take that first step and talk about their struggles, or to be the person who provides a supportive listening ear for someone who needs it.

 

How can talking help your mental health?

The old saying, ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’ is more than just a cliché. Keeping worries and concerns to ourselves often means they fester and grow, whereas sharing them with someone we can trust and have a conversation with can help us to feel unburdened. It often also has the added bonus of producing ideas or suggestions that might help us to move forward more positively.

As Time to Talk Day say on their website, mental health problems can leave those experiencing them feeling, “Isolated, ashamed and worthless.” But all of these feelings can be reduced if a person who is struggling with their mental health can find someone sympathetic to talk to, as Promedica24’s clients often do with their live-in carer.

 

Talking about mental health with older people

It can sometimes feel more difficult to broach mental ill health with older people because of the stigma that they will have known all of their lives – a stigma often fuelled by the historical approach to mental health problems that conjures up thoughts of asylums and barbaric ‘treatments’.

Such fears, coupled with a desire to maintain a British ‘stiff upper lip’, can make discussing concerns with older people tricky, but as I explained in my blog ‘Mental health for all’ ignoring the mental health problems older people experience can have the most dire of consequences – namely suicide.

A good approach to finding out how mentally well an older person is feeling can be to explore an issue like depression by asking general questions about how well the person is coping or how they are feeling. Do this while sharing hobbies or daily tasks like cooking to keep conversation less formal and avoid confrontation. Alongside talking, observe how well the person appears to be taking care of themselves and their home, being particularly alert for signs of loneliness as this can fuel depression.

 

Take the lead from football

Last month, just before football’s FA Cup 3rd round games, a film was shown to all spectators signposting to Every Mind Matters and Heads Up. The film began by saying:

 

“In life, as in football, we all go through highs and lows. We can all sometimes feel anxious or stressed. At moments, even the little things can seem a struggle. But we can all start to change things.”

 

This is a great example of how to make talking about mental health more accessible and less confrontational. It’s a film that can provide the perfect conversation starter when watched together with someone you are concerned about (particularly if they are a football fan!). It also shows how the support of others (with teammates embracing each other) can help a person to feel better.

 

Additional support from Promedica24

As human beings, we are inherently social creatures. That is why one-to-one support like live-in home care can help to improve an older or disabled person’s mental health. Promedica24’s services focus not just on physical care but also on the important mental health care that can make such a difference to wellbeing. To find out more about Promedica24’s live-in care, call 0800 086 8686 or email care@promedica24.co.uk.

 

About the author:

Beth Britton is an award-winning content creator, consultant, trainer, mentor, campaigner and speaker who is an expert in ageing, health and social care https://www.bethbritton.com.


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