When you read that just now, how did it sound in your mind? Did you hear the bubbly voice of your most positive friend, excited to get together and catch up at your favourite spot over your choice beverage? Maybe it sounded more ominous, like a parent with their arms folded, staring across the table at you as you shift uncomfortably under their gaze wondering what is coming next. Or perhaps it holds the sting from a painful break up conversation that came out of nowhere after you got a text made up of those same two words…
Words are only one part of how we communicate with the people around us. Another person’s tone, demeanour and body language couple with our past experiences to inform how we feel about the words we’re hearing. And it can be especially difficult to tell the tone of words that are typed out - like these ones - when there’s no tone of voice or facial expressions to help us figure out what the person behind the keyboard is trying to say.
Add to all that the sensitive subject of mental health, and it can make us scared to enter the conversation altogether. But really, that’s the worst thing we can do…we all want and need to talk. We need to share our joys and our tears. We need to know that if we reach out, someone will be there to walk alongside us with kindness, acceptance and understanding.
Whether it’s thoughts of suicide, depression, loneliness, hopelessness, or anything in-between or beyond, we need to share with each other and seek help when we need it. If you’re someone who needs to talk, try a trusted friend or family member or helpline like 1-833-456-4566 where someone who cares will be there night or day. If you think you know someone who might need to talk or find help, start the conversation – ask a friend how they are doing, be specific and take the time to check in with what not only their words are saying, but also the tone and body language that accompany it.
And remember – awkward is okay! These are tough conversations, but if they’re approached with kindness and understanding, that goes a long way. And if face-to-face feels like too much to start, try a text or an email. The words ... and emojis :) ... we choose and the way we say things is so important, but taking the time to say or type them is the first step!
So, Let’s Talk :) …
Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day! A day that not only raises awareness and encourages the conversation around mental health, but allows your conversations by phone, text, (remember to turn off your iMessage so it’ll count!), and social media to all help raise money towards mental health initiatives in Canada!
It’s days like this when we can help end the silence, where we can share our experiences and listen to others and build a community that is open, safe and inclusive for all of us.
Did you know that 1 in 5 Canadians will personally experience a mental health problem or illness during their lifetime? Yet less than half of us will seek help to deal with the issues we face. The stigma attached to mental health concerns is often the largest barrier to seeking help – we’re worried that if we open up, it might be more painful than keeping it all in. That needs to change.
We can always use a reminder to slow down, notice and seek out the people around us and take the time to talk. To really talk…and listen because the best compliment to kind words, is a listening ear.
Bell Let’s Talk Day is a great way to raise awareness and money for a great reason - and sometimes it's easier to talk about something when lots of other people are talking about it too – so let’s keep the conversation going every day! Take the time to say hi, text, stop and chat, and ask how someone is doing, it can make all the difference for someone you care about.
Will you help us keep the conversation going?
If you’re not sure how to start, or what to say, you can check out these links for some ideas and helpful resources around the words we use:
Statistics cited are from: https://cmha.ca/about-cmha/fast-facts-about-mental-illness