When a Loved One Is in Need: How to Navigate Conversations about Mental Health

July 28, 2017

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

CBS News

A new resource offers tips on navigating conversations about mental health with friends or family members. The Face the Issue campaign provides information on the signs that a loved one might be struggling and guidance on starting a dialogue about it. Changes in a loved one’s behavior can indicate that they are having a hard time, according to campaign advisor Peter Whybrow, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA. Experts agree that it is best to take an open-ended, non-judgmental approach to conversations about mental health issues, and to show empathy for the person in distress. “If you know a person reasonably well, the first step is really to listen to them and then to try to put yourself in their place,” Whybrow said. Any conflicts that arise in the course of the conversation should be met with concern and compassion rather than combative responses. Whybrow recommended offering to help the person find solutions and encouraging them to access professional help. Those at risk of suicide may be in need of more immediate assistance, such as helping them contact a crisis hotline or taking them to the local emergency department.

Spark Extra! Visit the Face the Issue website.