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 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.
Domestic abuse comes in many forms, shattering the lives of victims and their families, and in recognition of this the government has put forward proposals for new laws which would transform our approach to this terrible crime.
The consultation launched today (Thursday 8 March) by the Prime Minister Theresa May, Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Justice Secretary David Gauke, will seek views on measures to be included in the government’s draft Domestic Abuse Bill.
To ensure they get this landmark legislation right the Government now want to hear from all those who have been affected by abuse, from survivors, front line professionals, charities and the public, to gather views on how, together, we can best put a stop to it once and for all.
This consultation seeks to address domestic abuse at every stage from prevention through to rehabilitation. It references the connections and provisions of cross-sector agencies and departments and reinforces the Government’s aim to make domestic abuse everyone’s business.
By consulting the Government aims to harness the knowledge and expertise of victims and survivors, support organisations and research experts. They are also interested in the views of professionals across policing, criminal justice, health, welfare, education and local authorities who deal with these issues everyday.
The main aim through this work is to prevent domestic abuse by challenging the acceptability of abuse and addressing the underlying attitudes and norms that perpetuate it. This consultation asks questions under four main themes with the central aim of prevention running through each.
Promote awareness – to put domestic abuse at the top of everyone’s agenda, and raise public and professionals’ awareness.
Protect and support – to enhance the safety of victims and the support that they receive.
Pursue and deter – to provide an effective response to perpetrators from initial agency response through to conviction and management of offenders, including rehabilitation.
Improve Performance – to drive consistency and better performance in the response to domestic abuse across all local areas, agencies and sectors.
For each of these themes the current position is outlined and any potential areas identified where it is thought more could be done. These areas will be at different stages of development, and the accompanying questions will reflect this. In some instances feedback will be requested on specific proposals, whilst in others evidence or experiences will be asked for to further understand the problem.
The consultation includes some topics which are complex and/or technical.
Participate in this consultation
There are two versions of the consultation questionnaire:
Around 10-15% of new mothers in the UK suffer from postnatal depression (PND). It usually develops within the first 6 weeks after birth, but can develop at any point within the first year.
Symptoms may include feelings of being overwhelmed and unable to cope, suffering from low moods, anxiety, panic attacks, and experiencing irregular sleeping patterns and difficulty in bonding. This in turn may lead to feelings of guilt, anger, irritability, negative thoughts and feeling helpless and isolated, even when supported by loved ones.
offers an environment of respite for mums finding it difficult to cope. The group uses arts and crafts to help mums explore what they are experiencing and how they are feeling, whilst providing the opportunity to meet others in a similar position and find mutual support within the group. There is no obligation to engage with the craft activities and certainly no expectation to produce masterpieces! Refreshments and lunch are provided.
is a group for mums ready to explore what they are experiencing through talking with others in a similar position, facilitated by an experienced counsellor. Refreshments are provided.
Crèche and Care
A crèche is provided for babies and pre-school children, allowing mums to attend the groups in the knowledge their child is looked after in a safe crèche environment.
“Craft Attack has been the best support for me during a really difficult time” – Craft Attack attendee (2016/17)
Using Big Lottery funding we offer places for up to 10 mums with PND and the groups run every Monday for 10 weeks. Craft Attack lasts two hours (12.30 – 2.30) in a relaxed and confidential environment. Jigsaw lasts one and a half hours also in a safe and confidential environment. Both groups offer support to mums with symptoms of PND and may address other aspects of anxiety and depression associated with PND.
Qualified and experienced counsellors attend the groups and are available for you to speak with in relation to matters that may be affecting you and the care of your baby. Be assured that information shared is treated in the strictest confidence.
Transport can be provided for those who need it from the Ashford area; the transport will collect you from your home address and will return you back once the session has finished. Child seats can be included, please let us know in advance.
How you will benefit:
We will provide a confidential and safe place in which to support you.
We will enable you to meet people in a similar situation to develop new friendships.
We will support you in exploring feelings and emotions brought about through postnatal depression and early parenting challenges.
We can provide support that meets your individual needs: respite, group therapy or individual counselling / therapy.
We will work with you to build confidence and self-esteem to enable you to change your current position.
Would you like to know more?
Ashford Counselling Service
The Paul Bower Centre
123 Church Road
Kent TN24 0JQ
Tel: 01233 610083
Domestic abuse services will continue to expand in Ashford, thanks to the ongoing success of a strong multi-agency network programme.
At last night’s meeting, Ashford Borough Council’s Cabinet paid tribute to the ongoing success of Ashford Domestic Abuse Forum (ADAF), which works alongside professionals in the health, police, fire, voluntary, local authority and charitable sectors to support those seeking help. The charity’s achievements include the Ashford Domestic Abuse One Stop Shop, and a series of victim programmes.
ADAF is now introducing a new scheme in Ashford – in conjunction with the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Community Rehabilitation Company – aimed at helping perpetrators understand the impact they are having. A new rural drop-in service which may further improve provision for those across the borough is also being considered.
Additional funding has already been secured to provide a support network for both adolescent girls and boys, young women, and a specialist one-to-one service for children affected by domestic violence.
The Ashford Domestic Abuse One Stop Shop, a weekly drop-in centre where victims can receive advice and support, received 443 visitors between July 2016 and June 2017 – a 20% increase compared to the same period in 2015-16.
It is believed the increase is due to the leadership, delivery and awareness of the facility, which is enabling victims to speak out. It is the second busiest One Stop Shop in the county, with 20% of those attending doing so on more than one occasion.
Ashford Borough Council funds the full-time domestic abuse coordinator post, as well as providing money towards an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA), who is the primary contact for victims of domestic abuse. The council was also successful in bidding for funds to provide emergency accommodation to female victims of domestic violence.
Councillor Brad Bradford, Portfolio Holder for Health, Parking and Community Safety, said: “The council continues to play an important role in coordinating the response to domestic abuse. This ensures that Ashford has many excellent services committed to supporting such a worthwhile cause.
“This report highlights the marvellous work that has been undertaken by a range of agencies and I am impressed by the future work plan.”
The Ashford One Stop Shop is open every Tuesday between 9.30am and 12.30pm at The Willows Centre, Brookfield Road.