Today (1 February) is Time to Talk Day, the nation’s biggest mental health conversation. Our Communications Officer David shares some tips to help you if someone opens up about their mental health to you.
Epilepsy is much more than seizures. It is common for people living with epilepsy to experience mental health issues.
Last year, our mental health and epilepsy survey showed that 54% of those surveyed said that their epilepsy had a significant impact on their mental health.
One in three respondents said they have depression and almost half have anxiety.
I can’t put myself in the shoes of someone living with epilepsy but from listening to the lived experiences of the people I’ve met living with the condition, particularly those with unmanaged seizures, life can be extremely challenging.
Getting on a bus, going to the shops, attending a job interview, or meeting friends for a drink are all fraught with the anxiety of “Will I have a seizure when doing these things?”
Personally, I have had my own mental health challenges and sometimes still do.
The one thing that has helped me the most has been talking to my friends or family about how I am feeling and what is going on in my life.
I didn’t find it easy to open up on my mental health and it is hard to describe how you are feeling and worrying about being judged.
However, just talking to a friend or family member or calling a Helpline and saying I’m really struggling or feeling down or anxious can feel like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders and the first step to improve your general wellbeing.
There is no right way to talk about mental health. But the below can help if someone does open up about their mental health to you.
Ask questions and listen
Asking questions can give the person space to express how they’re feeling and what they are going through.
Ask questions that are open and are not judgmental, like ‘How does that affect you?’ or ‘What does it feel like?’
Think about the time and place
Sometimes it’s easier to talk side by side rather than face to face. You could start a conversation whilst walking, cooking, or stuck in traffic.
The location isn’t important but just striking up the conversation about mental health is.
Don’t try and fix it
It can be hard to see someone you care about having a difficult time. Don’t try to offer quick fixes as managing or recovering from a mental health problem can be a long journey.
Just talking can be really powerful, so unless they’ve asked for advice directly, it might be best just to listen.
Treat them the same
When someone has a mental health problem, they are still the same person as they were before.
If you want to support them, keep it simple and do the things you’d normally do. If a friend or loved one opens up about their mental health, they don’t want to be treated any differently.
No matter how hard you try, some people might not be ready to talk about what they are going through.
That’s ok – the fact that you’ve tried to talk to them about it may make it easier for them to open up another time.
If you are struggling with your epilepsy and mental health and feel like talking about how you are feeling, please call our freephone Helpline on 0808 800 2200 or email email@example.com