What better way to support the ones around you, than to understand ways to effectively communicate. Effective communication is defined as "the process of exchanging ideas, thoughts, opinions, knowledge, and data so that the message is received and understood with clarity and purpose" (Coursera, 2022). When discussing mental health, effective communication is also very essential! Some key things to consider when communicating are the language you are using, your audience, and the point that you are trying to get across.
The language that you use is very significant when communicating about mental health. Using the correct language can help desenitize mental illnesses. Here are some useful tips to use:
-Use person-first language.
Ex: A person with substance abuse disorder, instead of "an addict".
-Always ask question if you are unsure of something, never assume.
Ex: How are you doing today? instead of "I know exactly how you feel".
Normally you would not communicate with a child in the same way that you would with an adult. This is also very important while communicating about mental health.
-With children you should watch for reactions, when having discussions about mental health. Be straightfoward with children. Younger children will need fewer details.
-When communicating with teens it is important to validate their feelings. It is also good to be observant when communicating with teens. Changes in teens daily function may be sign that they need help with their mental health.
-While speaking with adults be sure that it is a good time and place for them to have a discussion. Acknowledge what they are saying. Encourage them to share more information about their situation if they are comfortable doing so.
What are you trying to say?
-Make sure what you are saying is concise and to the point.
-Make sure that it is a good time to have this conversation. Will you be rushed? Is it a good location for privacy?
-How will you approach the situation? Notice the tone that you are using.
There are many factors that tie into effectively communicating about mental health. The most important strategy is the effort that you are making. Everyone makes mistakes because this can be a sensitive topic for some. Being a listening ear is always helpful when you don't know the correct words to use, and this can be very benefical as well!