How to talk about mental health

How to start a conversation about mental health

Conversations about mental health can feel uncomfortable. We might worry that we won’t know what to say, or that we’ll say the wrong thing. But just by showing up, listening and showing genuine concern can make a world of difference.

Openly starting a conversation helps reduce mental health stigma, and can allow people to feel more comfortable asking for help.

How to start the conversation:

  • Be relaxed and friendly in your approach
  • Here are some examples of starting a conversation:
  • You seem less like yourself lately, how are you going?
  • I’ve noticed you’ve seemed a bit down lately, do you want to go somewhere and have a chat?
  • Find a place that's quiet and has a casual atmosphere such as a park or cafe.

Actively listen:

  • Allow them time and space to open up about how they are feeling.
  • Listen without interruption and without rushing the conversation.
  • Avoid judgment and acknowledge that what they are feeling is tough
  • Tell them that you’re glad they’ve shared how they are feeling
  • Avoid asking too many questions
  • Avoid giving advice unless they ask for advice

Encourage action:

  • What do you think would help you feel better?
  • Are there others you can lean on during this time?
  • How would you like me to support you?


  • Follow-up and see how they’re doing
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