How should you speak to someone who is suffering with their mental health?

Sonja Chilvers of Mind on how to talk to people struggling with their mental health

Sonja Chilvers of Mind on how to talk to people struggling with their mental health - Credit: Getty/Mind

It is estimated that more than 89,000 people in Norfolk have experienced a common mental disorder (CMD) in the past week alone. 

But despite the fact that one in six people in the UK are thought to be struggling with their mental health at any one time, it can still be difficult for loved ones to know how to approach the subject. 

Experts say that often people don’t know what to say - or feel overwhelmed by the prospect of saying the wrong thing - so don't interact at all. 

So, Sonja Chilvers, operations director at Norfolk and Waveney Mind has shared some top tips on how to speak to someone who is struggling with their mental health.  

Sonja Chilvers Operations Director

Sonja Chilvers is the operations director at Norfolk and Waveney Mind. - Credit: Sonja Chilvers

She said: "It is strongly evidenced that it is really important to support someone to foster a sense of control and hope for their future beyond the immediate experience of crisis. 


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"It is also really important to listen to someone - ensuring they feel connected to you. It can give them a feeling of hope and optimism for their future if they feel they are connected with a person in a moment, given time to be listened to without being dismissed and without fear of judgement."

She added: "But supporting someone with their mental health can be challenging and can be both exhausting and demanding, so ensure you get the support you need as well. 

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"Try to focus on wellness not illness, as it's empowering for them to gain some control back in their life without you telling them what they need. 

"If you provide a calm and safe environment for someone to open up and be listened to and heard it can also be a massive help." 

"Try to understand where someone is at and build hope but also accept the set backs, the fact that someone has reached out to you is the biggest most scariest thing someone has had to do, that show courage and the start of a journey," she went on. 

Finally, she added: "Just be in the moment with someone and create time to listen. It’s about exploring what things they think could help and in those early conversations that may not be possible so be patient." 

To find out more, or to seek some support for mental health, visit the Mind website.  

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