Britain Get Talking: how do I have a conversation about mental health?

Everyone says we should talk more, to help our mental health.

But how do you get the conversation going?

ITV's mental health initiative is called Britain Get Talking. It's now been going for a year and a half and is supported by the charities Mind and YoungMinds.

This month, the campaign is back with the 'How To Chat Show', which aims to get all of us opening up about our mental health.

We spoke to the organisation Time to Change, for some practical advice which could help you, to help someone else.

  • It can be easier to talk when you’re out and about doing something else - like your daily exercise. Talking side by side can be easier than face to face.

  • Or it could be any time when you both feel comfortable - cooking, working, watching TV, or it can still be helpful even if it’s over video call.

  • Have a think about who you’d like to talk to in advance.

  • Choose a time and place where you feel comfortable.

  • If someone asks how you are, be yourself and answer honestly.  

  • During the conversation, not saying anything might be more important than talking. Just listen, and let the other person talk.

  • You can ask questions which help the other person to think and reflect, like ‘what does it feel like?’ or ‘how does it affect you?’  

  • You don’t need to fix everything, or offer advice. Just taking time to pay attention and show you care can make all the difference.

  • If you just ask ‘how are you?’ probably not much will happen. But if you ask again, and show you’re willing to talk and listen, you might get a different response.

  • If you’re really worried about someone, next time they say they’re fine - try ‘Are you sure you’re ok?’

  • If you’re going to check in with someone you think might be struggling, you could have some information about support services ready. But some people might want to do their own research.

  • If you're comfortable sharing your own experiences that might help.

  • It’s important not to share what someone has told you, and respect their trust.  If you’re worried about someone, you can tell them about organisations like Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, or the Samaritans.

  • End the conversation by reminding them that if they want to talk again - you’ll be there to listen.