Why is talking about mental health important?
There’s been a lot of news in the media and online recently about how we don’t talk about mental health. Discussing feelings is difficult and, unfortunately, mental health is often seen as something shameful.
Especially here in the UK, we can all too quickly shy away from speaking about difficult subjects and talking about mental health might be top of the list.
The truth is taking the first step and starting a conversation, feeling confident enough to discuss personal mental health issues, is critical for both children and adults.
The old BT advert used to say: It’s good to talk. Never is this more important than when mental health challenges are involved.
The Challenge of Mental Health
As an expert in public speaking, one of my key focuses is, of course, engaging and meaningful communication. It’s a useful life skill that’s critical for almost everything we do – not least when we are dealing with our emotions.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, 1 in 6 of us are likely to suffer from a condition like anxiety or depression. More worryingly, 1 in 5 adults has considered taking their life at some point.
If one of the hurdles with mental health is talking about it, this works for both sides. The person who is facing challenges may be reluctant to talk about their mental health. The family member or friend who would like to help might not have the confidence or the skill to broach the subject and start a conversation in the first place.
This can end up with a stand-off where no one acts. The person’s mental health gets worse and it becomes more challenging to intervene. In short, no one talks.
Part of the problem with discussing mental health is the fear factor. Both children and adults may be terrified of talking about something so personal. We don’t have this issue with physical health. But when it comes to the intricacies of the mind we suddenly become mute. Why?
- You’re frightened you will do more harm than good by forcing the issue on a friend who seems to be struggling and doesn’t want to talk.
- You feel your friend, son or daughter, brother or sister will think less of you because you have a mental health challenge.
- Sometimes you simply can’t find the words to explain what is going on. When you talk about it, the problem sounds stupid or trivial and you simply hide it away and let things get gradually worse.
Children, in particular, can have huge difficulty expressing their feelings and explaining what is going on.
How to Avoid Fear When Talking About Mental Health
Someone could be facing childhood trauma. They might be under too much stress at work and spend most of the day anxious and even depressed. Many people in recent times have struggled with being locked down during the pandemic.
Reducing the fear of talking about mental health issues is, in part, about confidence. We tend to take our communication skills for granted until we have to do something out of our comfort zone. Then we discover that we are not the great communicators we thought we were.
The good news is that these types of speaking skills can be learned.
There’s a trend I see when helping people learn the art of public speaking – they start very nervous, even to the point of feeling physically sick, but once they learn the basics and dip their toe into the water they begin to grow in confidence and come out of their shell.
Building the Confidence to Communicate on Mental Health
Strengthening your communication skills helps you approach mental health issues more positively. This kind of personal development works for both children and adults and can greatly reduce the fear that people often feel when speaking about personal problems.
Online Courses and Workshops: Develop the Life Skills You Need
At Sonal Dave, I offer a range of support from online courses that you do yourself or where you can work directly with me to complete the course. I help young children, teenagers and adults become confident in their communication. These cover everything from storytelling and basic speaking skills to how to deal with nerves and speaking in a variety of situations.
Want to find out more? Check out the public speaking courses here.