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Just having a conversation about mental health – with a friend, family member or anyone else – can help to break down the silence and shame around the subject.

There are lots of ways to start a conversation about mental health. Here are a few ideas. 

  • Sometimes it’s just as simple as asking a friend ‘how are you’ ‘how are you coping’ or ‘are you coping’, and really listening to the answer. Don’t be nervous that you need to have all the answers. Usually just listening and being supportive is enough.
  • You could use the Time to Change printable conversation starter (pdf) and go through it with someone you are concerned about.
  • If there are mental health-related stories in the news, or a celebrity talking about it, why not use that as a way to get the conversation going? Share stories on social media, or bring it up in conversation with someone you are worried about.
  • It is often easier to talk with someone side-by-side instead of face to face: when you’re cooking, driving or walking somewhere are all good times to give it a go. 
  • If you need to talk to someone about your own mental health don’t feel you need to blurt it all out at once. A simple statement like ‘I’m not coping at the moment, I think I need to talk to someone’ is a good way to get started.
  • If you want to equip yourself with basic information before you start a conversation about something specific, like suicide, eating disorders or hearing voices, there are loads of great websites that can help. And in Dorset there are many organisations who can help too. Organisations like Dorset Mind can signpost you if you need someone to ask.
  • If you need to start a conversation because you are desperate or experiencing a crisis you should contact your GP or speak to the Samaritans on 116 123
  • Perhaps you could start a conversation about your interest in the Dorset Mental Health Alliance and why you are keen to be involved, let others know that it is ok to talk about mental health