How to Start a Conversation and Ask for Help

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Posted 74 days ago Latest
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How to Start a Conversation and Ask for Help

Written by Dr Hannah Farnsworth

Even though our mental health is an important part of our overall wellbeing, many of us feel uncomfortable discussing how we feel. 

Our next article will help you feel more confident and better prepared for starting conversations that you might feel nervous about. It will also provide you with simple ideas you can try if you are unsure how to ask for help.

 1 Recognise That You Need Help

It might sound obvious, but it’s important to trust your instincts if you think you might need help. Pay attention to how you feel, and if you notice persistent sadness, anxiety, irritability, changes in sleep or appetite, difficulty concentrating, or feeling hopeless or withdrawn, it’s time to share how you feel and take the first steps towards seeking help.

2 Pick Who to Talk To

When it comes to talking about mental health, it’s important to choose the right person. Think about who you trust and who you would feel comfortable confiding in. This could be a close friend, family member, school counsellor, teacher, or your GP.

If you are unsure if someone is a good choice, think about whether they are likely to listen, show empathy, and support you without judgment.

3 Decide How to Communicate

Sometimes it can be hard to get the words out. If you don’t feel able to say the words out loud in person, think about whether you could open up to someone in a different way. Communicating via text, email, letters, voice notes and phone calls could reduce the pressure you feel.

Alternative communication doesn’t have to be long-term solution – you may only send one text to a friend to gauge their reaction before deciding if they are the right person to talk to face to face.

4 Choose the Right Place and Time

There may not be a ‘good’ time, but some moments and locations are better than others. Choose somewhere quiet and private, where you can speak openly without worrying about others overhearing. You may find it easier to choose somewhere neutral – cafés can be suitable as the gentle background noise can make it feel easier to talk. 

Talking while you walk can also make the conversation feel less intense, as you can chat side by side rather than face to face. 

Choose a time when you and the other person both feel as calm and relaxed as possible to ensure your conversation is meaningful and uninterrupted.

 5 Start the Conversation

This can feel like the scariest part, but remember you are not alone in feeling this way. Begin by expressing your feelings honestly and directly. 

 For example, you might say, “I’ve been feeling really overwhelmed lately, and I think I need some help,” or “I’ve been struggling with my mood, and I don’t know what to do about it”.

 Before you start the conversation, try to pinpoint how you are feeling, and how you might put this feeling into a sentence. You may feel more confident sharing your feelings if you practice what you want to say beforehand.

In some cases, you may have heard someone else express something that feels right to you. This might be a character in a film, or something that you saw online or read in a book. It’s ok to use other people’s examples if they explain how you feel.

6 Be Honest and Open

Try to be authentic and transparent about your thoughts and emotions. You don’t have to have all the answers or know exactly what’s causing you to feel the way you do. It’s ok to be unsure, and simply sharing your experiences and feelings is a significant step towards getting the help you need.

7 Remember Change Takes Time

Starting a conversation with someone you trust is a great first step, but try not to expect too much at first. Understanding your thoughts, feelings and mental health takes time. 

The person you choose to talk to may also need time to digest what you tell them, so give them some space to process their own feelings around the discussion. If possible, come back to the conversation with them again when you both feel ready.

8 Ask for More Help

If you have been talking about your feelings for a while but still feel the same, don’t hesitate to look for more help. This might mean seeing your GP, finding out about a school counsellor or private therapist, calling a helpline or finding out about support groups. 

9 Take Care of Yourself

You may notice ups and downs when you first start talking about how you feel. Try to look after yourself with self-care activities like eating well, getting enough sleep, trying mindfulness exercises and going out for regular walks. 

Final Thoughts

Starting a conversation about your mental health and asking for help might feel nerve-wracking, but getting help and support from someone you trust can be one of the best ways to begin taking care of your emotional wellbeing. Practise what you might say, choose a sensible time and place, and try to speak honestly and openly.

Posted by Dr Hannah Farnsworth

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