3 Ways to Start Talking About Mental Health

We’re told time and time again that talking about mental health is fundamental as a first step to recovery. But talking about mental health isn’t as easy as just telling someone to do it. So here are a few ways to open up the conversation about mental health, whether it’s to help yourself to open up or encourage a friend to do so.

Send a text

Whether you’re feeling uneasy about opening up to someone about your own mental health, or you want to encourage a friend to talk more easily about their own, speaking face to face isn’t always easy. Talking about mental health can feel awkward and sometimes stigma can make you feel like you’re confessing to something that should be kept private.

To help break up the awkwardness try sending a text. If you’re wanting to tell someone about your mental health, it can be easier to write down what you want to say to someone and you can take time to get your message across.

If you want to find out how someone else is doing then just ask. A simple ‘How are you doing today?’ is enough to get the conversation flowing. And you don’t have to deal with any uncomfortable eye contact if you’re feeling anxious.

Go for a walk

Is there anything worse than wanting to talk about something you feel nervous about and having to sit across from that person and look them right in the eye? No, there isn’t. Suggest going for a walk so that you can have a more comfortable conversation.

It’s easy to change the subject because there are plenty of distractions and everything feels better in the fresh air, doesn’t it?

Open up

If you’re wanting to encourage a friend to talk about their mental health but don’t know how, then try talking about your own experiences. Even if you don’t have direct experience with a mental health disorder, then chances are that you know someone who does or you have some experience of it.

You’ll make your friend feel so much more comfortable if they know you can empathise. The likelihood is that they just want someone to listen, they’re not looking for answers from you.

Have you ever tried to open up to a friend about your mental health? What would have helped you? Let me know in the comments!

Rachel x-x-x

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Graded Exposure and Overcoming Spider Fears

Anyone who knows me will know I’m terrified of spiders. It’s a well known fact. There have been various scary spider moments in my life.
There was the time when i stepped out of the bath only to jump right in again and shout out for my mum to come rescue me while I was crying my eyes out, naked, standing in the bath. Not a pretty sight.
Then there was the horrific event at my boyfriend’s house when the worst thing possible for any arachnophobe happened. He dropped the spider! So I had to go home and sleep there for a couple of nights. Luckily we lived on the same street so it wasn’t too disruptive.
And most recently when I’d come back from a weekend away in Sheffield to find a horrible one, you know the kind, hiding between my bed and my cupboard. It took 6 of us to deal with it.

So seeing as I’m the kind of person who accurately documents their spider experiences, you can probably tell I’m pretty scared of them ALL THE TIME.

Today’s post is all about graded exposure. Little disclaimer: I’m no expert in exposure therapy and dont think it’s the right way to go for all phobias or anxieties but this worked for me.

In the past every spider would be met with crying and having to go into another room until someone could handle the situation. If there was no one around I’d just avoid the room it was in. I’ve been known to avoid bathrooms post spider experience for a good few days. Just the fact that one has been there makes me feel a little bit sick.

About a year ago my boyfriend and I were reading about exposure therapy and those courses you can do to get over fears, except that they cost about a million pounds (more like £500 but whatever) so we thought we’d try it ourselves at home.

My boyfriend gathered some photos off the internet and each week he set a ‘scarier’ spider as my computer background. We started off really easy with cartoon ones and then graduated to real ones. We never made it to a tarantula because that’s never okay and the word makes me itchy.

I didn’t think much of the exposure therapy idea at the time. I was dealing pretty well with the picture changes but didn’t see how it would translate to real life. Well something must have changed because I can honestly say I’m no way near as scared as I used to be.

I can now look at photos of spiders and talk about them without the thought that saying their name will somehow summon one.

If you’re dealing with a similar phobia, then here are some tips for trying exposure therapy:

Start Small

Getting over a phobia can seem like a huge step but if you start with really small steps you’ll find that you make progress more quickly. I started with really cute cartoon pictures that actually looked nothing like spiders.

Get A Friend To Help

Having my boyfriend change the desktop photo each week meant that I didn’t know what was coming and this leads me on to my next point.

Challenge Yourself

Whatever the phobia, you’re going to think that it’s insurmountable but it’s not. Make sure to challenge yourself when you’re comfortable with the previous step.

What methods have you tried to overcome a phobia? Let me know in the comments! 

Rachel x-x-x

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As part of my Think Again: Mental Health Series Rachel from Rachel Rambling On questions why we aren’t talking about mental health.
TalkMH

We talk about our physical health. If we have a cold, we get some advice from a pharmacist, if we break a leg we see a doctor, if we get a more serious illness like cancer, we get all the help we can. However, what about if our minds are sick?  What if you’ve been struggling to get out of bed in the morning because the thought of the day is too much? What if your mind is telling you you’re ugly? What if you have panic attacks every time you use public transport? Who do you tell then? Sometimes we don’t even tell our closest friends about this.

My question is, why shouldn’t we talk about it? Our minds are just as worthy of being healthy as the rest of our bodies. With this post, I aim to break down the stigma surrounding mental health, particularly talking about our mental health. In school we are told to see the school nurse if we have a headache or sickness. In school you learn about different sorts of illnesses but never about mental illness. Why is that? Why is it frowned upon to talk about what’s going on in our heads?
 

According to some statistics suicide is the leading cause of death in men under 45. Yes, that’s right. More men under 45 in the UK die due to suicide, not cancer or lung disease. Suicide. Let that sink in. I can’t help but think if we spoke about our mental health more often and more openly, then this statistic would not be so prominent.
 

I began blogging about my mental health at the end of last year. I am beyond happy that I decided to do this because the support I have received from fellow bloggers has been phenomenal, and key to aiding my recovery. I know not everyone can blog about their mental health, some people find it difficult to talk about it at all, but in my opinion, once you have talked to just one person, it gets so much easier, like a weight has lifted. Talking about my mental health has helped others, it has educated those who didn’t know about my mental illness and it has helped to stop the stigma surrounding mental health. There is still a long way to go, but if every person who reads this can talk about mental health, be it their own, mental health in general or even sharing this post, we would be even closer to helping to banish the stigma surrounding mental health.
 

To get involved further why not join the #TalkMH chat on Twitter. It’s on a Thursday at 8.30pm (UK time) and the host is the wonderful @hannahrainey_ let’s all get involved and fight the stigma surrounding mental health.

?? Rachel blogs at Rachel Rambling On. Find her on Twitter here.
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