Talking about mental health is not always easy. But starting a conversation doesn’t have to be awkward, and being there for someone can make a huge difference.
It’s important that conversations happen at times and in places that feel natural. Sometimes it’s easier to talk about our feelings when we are doing something else. Driving in the car; jogging around the park; eating breakfast in the cafe. The more typical the setting, the less unusual and uncomfortable the conversation can feel.
There is no right way to talk about mental health, but these tips will guide you to make sure you’re approaching it in a helpful way.
1. Ask questions and listen
Asking questions can give the person space to express how they’re feeling and what they’re going through, and it will help you to understand their experience better. Try to ask questions that are open and not leading or judgemental – such as “how does that affect you” or “what does it feel like?”
2. Think about the time & place
Sometimes it’s easier to talk side by side rather than face to face. So, if you do talk in person, you might want to chat while you are doing something else. You could start a conversation when you’re walking, cooking or stuck in traffic. However, don’t let the search for the perfect place put you off!
3. Don’t try & fix it
It can be hard to see someone you care about having a difficult time but try to resist the urge to offer quick fixes to what they’re going through. Learning to manage or recover from a mental health problem can be a long journey, and they’ve likely already considered lots of different tools and strategies. Just talking can be really powerful, so unless they’ve asked for advice directly, it might be best just to listen.
4. Treat them the same
When someone has a mental health problem , they’re still the same person as they were before. And that means when a friend or loved one opens up about mental health, they don’t want to be treated any differently. If you want to support them, keep it simple. Do the things you’d normally do.
5. Be patient
No matter how hard you try, some people might not be ready to talk about what they’re going through. That’s ok – the fact that you’ve tried to talk to them about it may make it easier for them to open up another time.
And there are lots of things you can do to support them even if you’re not talking:
Doing things together
Sending a text to let them know you’re thinking of them
Offering to help with day-to-day tasks.
Are you hoping to start a conversation today?Read Lauren’s 5 tips for starting a conversation about mental health Read Lauren’s tips
Time To Change
Mental health help and support services
If you’re experiencing mental health problems or need urgent support, there are lots of places you can go to for help.
Time to Change focuses on challenging stigma and discrimination in society, so they’re not able to provide individual or emergency support for people in crisis. But there are lots of people who can. They are listed here:
Provides confidential, non-judgemental emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those that could lead to suicide. You can phone, email, write a letter or in most cases talk to someone face to face.
Mind provides confidential mental health information services.
With support and understanding, Mind enables people to make informed choices. The Infoline gives information on types of mental health problems, where to get help, drug treatments, alternative therapies and advocacy. Mind works in partnership with around 140 local Minds providing local mental health services.
Provides expert advice and information to people with mental health problems and those who care for them, as well as giving help to health professionals, employers and staff. Rethink also runs Rethink services and groups across England.
The Mix provides judgement-free information and support to young people aged 13-25 on a range of issues including mental health problems. Young people can access the The Mix’s support via phone, email, webchat, peer to peer and counselling services.
ChildLine is a private and confidential service for children and young people up to the age of nineteen. You can contact a ChildLine counsellor for free about anything – no problem is too big or too small.
Live Well Kent helps people improve their mental and physical health and wellbeing. It is a free service for anyone over 17. Live Well Kent is delivered on behalf of Kent County Council and the NHS by two charities, Porchlight and Shaw Trust.
Cycling is also much better for the environment than driving. More than a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions are produced by cars and other vehicles,6 whereas cycling is generally considered to be a zero-emissions form of transport. Even when emissions from production and maintenance of bikes are taken into account, the emissions associated with cycling are significantly lower. And if UK citizens cycled to work with the same frequency as people do in the Netherlands, for example, where more than a quarter of journeys are made by bike, carbon dioxide outputs could reduce by more than 1,500 tonnes per year.
Estimates suggest that around 12,000 premature deaths could be prevented over the next 10 years if the UK and Scottish governments meet their targets for increasing the number of journeys made on foot or by bicycle.
Choosing to ride a bike instead of driving can also help to reduce congestion in urban areas – almost four in ten people acknowledge that many of the two-mile journeys they currently make in a car could instead be made by bike.
Cycling is one of the healthiest, cheapest and most environmentally friendly forms of transport available, with the benefits to public health, congestion and the economy widely acknowledged.
Cycling is an excellent form of exercise and can help with both weight loss and physical fitness. It also reduces the risk of serious conditions like diabetes and heart disease later in life, and can contribute to higher overall personal wellbeing.Cycling can boost brain power too, by increasing blood flow to the brain by around 30–40%.
Even cyclists in busy cities report better lung health. Riders can experience five times lower pollution levels than drivers, because air is more able to circulate around them when they are riding, compared with being stuck in a vehicle.Cyclists who use quieter routes away from busy traffic see even greater benefits.
Following our posts announcing listening events and a survey about potential changes to local care and hospital services in East Kent we are now able to give the response from the NHS in East Kent to some questions about the proposals. (more…)
The NHS is holding eight public events to discuss potential options for changing hospital and local care services in east Kent.
At these events, between 30 October and 20 November, doctors and other NHS leaders will discuss with local people:
the benefits change could bring
how services outside hospitals are developing to maximise the care people get locally
how the two options for hospital services might affect people across east Kent
the next steps towards public consultation.
Caroline Selkirk, Managing Director of the four NHS clinical commissioning groups in east Kent*, said: “This is the next step in conversations we’ve been having with staff, patients and the public over recent years about why change is needed to health and care services in east Kent and how services could be improved.
“We have done a great deal to respond to what people in east Kent have told us they need, such as access to more appointments with GPs and nurses, including in the evening and at weekends; joining up care for people with the most complex conditions; and starting to hold more outpatient clinics in local communities.
“We have also been looking in depth at two potential options to improve hospital services in east Kent.
“These informal meetings with local communities, ahead of any formal public consultation next year, are a chance for local people and organisations representing patients to hear more about our work so far, and to help us understand the potential impact of the options we are currently looking at. We want to continue to gather a range of insights on the latest phase of our work. What people tell us will be considered by the joint committee of east Kent clinical commissioning groups, before it decides whether both potential options for changes to hospital services go forward to public consultation.”
If you cannot make it to the events, there will be more information about the proposals added to www.kentandmedway.nhs.uk/eastkent shortly and an online survey will be open from mid-October.
From 1 October, extra evening, weekend and bank holiday appointments are available in east Kent to help patients get the care they need, when they need it.
This is part of a national drive to improve access to GP practice services and give people the opportunity to have an appointment at a time that suits them.
The extra appointments, which may be provided by a GP, nurse, physiotherapist, paramedic practitioner or other health professional, are for routine, non-urgent care. The extra slots are available between 6.30pm and 8pm each weekday. There are also appointments on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays.
They will not necessarily be at patients’ usual GP practice, but the health professionals treating them will be able to see their full medical records, with their consent. Patients who need an appointment will be allocated the most suitable clinician for their need.
Dr Navin Kumta, chair of NHS Ashford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “We know that people sometimes have to wait to see a nurse or doctor and we believe the new longer hours will be of particular help to commuters, parents with young families, and other people who find it difficult to get to their practice during normal working hours.
“Anyone wanting to make an appointment should contact their GP practice in the first instance. Trained reception staff will know where and when appointments are available, and with which healthcare professional, and will be able to book the patient in. Patients should advise the receptionist if they particularly want an evening or weekend appointment.
“These extra appointments will be available for pre-booked care. It’s important to remember that anyone who needs medical assistance when their practice is closed should continue to dial NHS 111.”
To make sure that the new appointments system works well for patients, the CCG would like to encourage people to tell us about their experiences of them. Anyone with comments or queries can email the patient experience team:email@example.com
The NHS in Kent and Medway has today published the preferred option for three new specialist ‘hyper acute stroke units’ to be introduced across the county. This is part of an ongoing review of urgent stroke services led by local doctors and other clinicians. The aim is to reorganise services so that specialist stroke staff can more consistently deliver high quality care around the clock, and in so doing reduce deaths and long-term disability from stroke for local people.
The preferred option is to have hyper acute stroke units, alongside acute stroke units, at Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford, Maidstone Hospital and William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.
Currently stroke services do not consistently meet best-practice standards across the whole of Kent and Medway. The identification of a preferred option brings the NHS a step closer to improving stroke outcomes and reducing deaths and disability because of stroke. The preferred option was identified following careful consideration of the responses to a public consultation, all the evidence and data gathered during the four-year review, and further detailed evaluation of five shortlisted options including trust proposals for implementation.
The next stage in the review process is to develop a decision-making business case – a detailed document that will describe how the preferred option was selected and set out an implementation plan that will cover areas such as workforce, estates and capital requirement. A Joint Committee of the ten local NHS clinical commissioning groups that ran the consultation will examine this and then make a final decision on the future shape of urgent stroke services in January 2019.
Over the next few months the NHS will be gathering views and feedback on the proposed new approach to rehabilitation from stroke survivors, their families and carers, front-line staff, local councillors and the public to help inform detailed implementation plans. Look out for further information on the Kent and Medway NHS website www.kentandmedway.nhs.uk/stroke.