Mental health is a serious topic, but the conversation and education around it can be fun, lighthearted, and comfortable. Here are some ways you can comfortably talk about mental health with your family.
Talk about yourself!
An easy way to create an open, comfortable environment around taboo topics is to discuss your own experiences. Describe your experience and how you may have overcome it. It could help those around you feel more comfortable sharing their stories.
Example: “I had a rough week at work. Four people called in sick and I had to jump into new positions to help out. I didn’t even get a thank you for my effort.”
This example is a small way of sharing how you felt during the week. If you’re sharing something that hasn’t been resolved ask your family for ideas on how they think you should handle a situation. Even if they don’t share too much about themselves, by encouraging them to think of a solution for you, they can start to trigger their own solution-focused thinking.
Talk about Other People
You may be thinking, “no way, I don’t gossip!”. According to psychology professor David Ludden, gossip can be positive or neutral – it’s not always negative. So how can it help with having a comfortable conversation about mental health? Talking about the mental health of people who are not in your presence, is still opening up the conversation.
Example: “It makes me so sad that Shania is struggling with depression. Her mother said it seemed to have come on all of a sudden. What do you think caused it?”
Talking about problems faced by those outside your immediate family and how they make you feel can foster an environment of empathy while creating room for discussion. It doesn’t have to be someone you know personally. Talking about celebrities like Britney Spears can help facilitate similar discussions.
Talk about media
And we don’t mean the type of media that shows political “debates”. As a member of our benefit plan, you receive great resources and information about various mental health topics. Talk about interesting articles you’ve read or videos you may have seen on mental health topics (such as this one ;)). Reflect on how they made you feel and share any realizations you may have had.
Example: “I read this article about Seasonal Affective Disorder today. It’s so strange that the weather can affect our mood so seriously. Do you think it affects you?”
Talking about topics you have read about or watched videos on, helps encourage education about mental health.