Today is national ‘Time to Talk’ Day – a day which encourages us all to be more open about mental health and to talk, listen and ultimately change lives. Too many people living with mental health problems are made to feel isolated and ashamed but we want to change this so that no one has to face it alone.
Natalie, one of our Support, Time and Recover Service (STaR) workers, would like to say few words about how you can help those around you and the importance of active listening:
“I want to share something I feel is really important in my own practice and to my life in general and it’s about the power of acknowledgement.
There is a huge amount of power in actively listening to someone who is experiencing any form of distress.To my mind, one of the by-products of active listening is acknowledgement.
When we listen without trying to fix the problem, and we listen to achieve a real understanding of the other person’s experience, and we put aside our own views and opinions so we can fully immerse ourselves into the world of the talker; then we are on our way to finding acknowledgement. To say things like ‘that sounds really difficult for you’ is so much more empowering and strengthening than trying to reassure by saying ‘don’t overthink it, it will be fine!’.
From years of experience working with people, as well as having my own dips, I don’t believe anyone can truly move forward unless they have found some source of acknowledgment. That’s why we would never begin to look at solutions and action planning until we have discovered where the persons barriers are, and confident that the person is ready to move forward. There is a real safety and strength in this I think.
There is an abundance of information online about active listening including Ted Talk lectures, which may help families and friends improve their ability to support those who are experiencing mental health problems. There is also lots of information which may help someone who is in distress to better communicate their needs, it’s worth looking into as it makes all the difference.”
For more information on active listening, please visit the following websites which you may find useful:
Samaritans on active listening
Wherever you are today, have your conversation about mental health.