beyondblue is launching a new national initiative called ‘Have the Conversation’ this World Mental Health Day to guide Australians on how to approach someone they think may be struggling with depression or anxiety, and how to talk to someone about how you are feeling.
The new free resources, proudly joint funded by The Movember Foundation and beyondblue, includes a website, handy tips and videos of people talking about how to approach a friend or family member you may be concerned about.
beyondblue Chairman The Hon. Jeff Kennett AC said recent events, such as the highly-publicised death of Robin Williams, had confirmed for beyondblue how much people wanted to understand more about suicide and talk about mental health and mental illness, but wanted to know how to have the conversation.
“There is a thirst for more detail and practical guidance and ‘Have the Conversation’ helps to fill that gap,” he said.
“Insensitive remarks, ignoring a person, or telling them to ‘cheer up’ is very unhelpful to a person experiencing depression or anxiety, but people often don’t know what to say to someone they are worried about. We are often frightened of saying the wrong thing.
“Today, look around your family, your friends and work colleagues and if you think they may be having a tough time, I urge you to use our new resource for guidance on how to have a conversation with them. Similarly, if you are struggling the resources may be helpful for you to let someone know how you are feeling.”
The ‘Have the Conversation’ resources aim to increase confidence and skills to have effective conversations with people of all ages about depression and anxiety. It complements the excellent “Conversations Matter” resources for discussing suicide developed by the Hunter Institute and the NSW Mental Health Commission.
The beyondblue Depression Monitor (2014) showed that unhelpful beliefs still exist in the general community about supporting someone with anxiety and depression:
• A third of people wrongly believe it’s helpful to ‘keep out of the way’ of a person who is depressed.
• 1 in 4 people wrongly believe it’s helpful to encourage them to put on a brave face and push on.
• 1 in 3 people wrongly believe it’s helpful to ‘tell them your own worries to put their own problems in perspective’.
The website (beyondblue.org.au/conversations) has videos and factsheets which provide advice on how to talk to someone you’re concerned about or alternatively, how you can talk to someone, if you are having a tough time.
beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said the resources were developed using real-life stories and using expert advice and tips from beyondblue’s blueVoices members.
These are people who have personal experience of depression and/or anxiety, and have had these conversations themselves.
“ The overwhelming majority had not been approached by others in the best possible way. We asked ‘what worked?’, what didn’t? And what would you have liked them to have said?
“This isn’t touchy feely stuff – talking with others is often the start of someone seeking help,” she said.
“Connecting with others can also turn things around. Feeling supported when talking about experiences of anxiety and depression ensures people feel less alone, and more understood, which assists in their recovery.”
The Movember Foundation’s Jeremy Macvean said this project would help all Australians to feel confident about saying the right thing when they check in with their friends and family this World Mental Health Day.
“One of Movember’s goals is to spark conversations about men’s health, including their mental health,” he said.
“These resources give people advice on how to have that conversation, and what to do if the person says they are struggling and need help for symptoms of depression or anxiety.”