Taking care of your mental health is equally as important as taking care of your physical health. According to the 2022 WHO report, 1 in 8 people around the world live with a mental disorder . This warrants a need for increased awareness, with 9 out of 10 people with mental health reporting that its stigma affects their life . Why is it important to talk about mental health? Because one of the best ways to open the conversation and end the stigma is to talk about it. The UK’s biggest annual mental health conversation, Time to Talk Day, is taking place on 2 February. Run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, it is the perfect opportunity to start a conversation around mental health.
How to talk about mental health
Mental health should be handled with care, and it is important to talk about it the right way. In the world of psychology, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is the gold standard of talk therapy . It has been extensively studied with a large base of evidence proving its benefits for all age groups and for multiple mental health issues.
CBT, usually delivered by a trained professional, works on the foundation that your thoughts, feelings and actions are connected. It is a goal-oriented therapy. It aims to modify your thoughts to restructure your behaviour, so it helps you feel better, thus adding to a positive cycle of good thoughts, constructive behaviours, and happy feelings .
Effective and long lasting: talking therapy benefits.
If you are looking for a way to help with stress or mood disorders, CBT is a great option to consider. 40% of depressed patients receiving this talk therapy reported 50% reduction in depressive scores and improvement in quality of life . It makes you skilled in being to self-manage situations, while easing you into having open conversations about problems.
As per NHS Digital , almost 70% of those who underwent talk therapy reported benefits for a variety of conditions. Over 50% of those attending recovered from their symptoms. These were seen in an average of 7 sessions. CBT recommends 10-20 sessions for long-term benefits. Depressive people saw benefits even after 40 months post-therapy, emphasising its effectiveness .
If you shy away from having a face-to-face chat with strangers, CBT can also be delivered digitally. And it is equally as effective as reported by a review of 106 studies . When done right, CBT provided digitally can help improve symptoms and improved psychological status. It is also cost effective and can be better accessed globally.
If you are looking to access CBT for yourself or a loved one, read more here.
5 ways to talk about mental health correctly.
The Mental Health Foundation  and Mental Health America  recommends ways to correctly discuss mental health to extend your support:
- Be in a safe space, listen with an open mind and be empathetic. Start with text messages or letters if talking is challenging.
- Use reliable resources to look up concepts you are unfamiliar with to be better equipped to support them correctly.
- Be mindful of terms you use around them and learn about the right words to use.
- Ask them ways you can offer help and support, instead of pushing your own ideas on them, which may be ineffective.
- If you are concerned about their safety, reach out to the right helplines like https://www.therapyforyou.co.uk/crisis
Build connections for better mental health
Connecting with family, friends and loved ones can boost your mental wellbeing. Those who are better socially connected and have healthy relationships have better mental health and lower risk of mental disorders . Take the first step towards initiating a conversation: call a friend you haven't spoken to in a while, meet up with a family member for a shared meal, or go for a walk with a loved one. This can brighten up your day and theirs, adding to the social support for better mental health. There are multiple benefits of talking about mental health, including literally saving lives. Use this as the perfect opportunity to have a heart-to-heart talk about mind matters. It’s Time to Talk. Join the conversation here: https://timetotalkday.co.uk/
- World Health Organization (2022). World mental health report: Transforming mental health for all.
- Mental Health Foundation (2021). Stigma and Discrimination.
- David, D. et al. (2018). Why cognitive behavioral therapy is the current gold standard of psychotherapy. Frontiers in Psychiatry, [online] 9(4), pp.1–3.
- Chand, S. P. et al. (2022). Cognitive Behavior Therapy. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing.
- Wiles, N.J. et al. (2016). Long-term effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of cognitive behavioural therapy as an adjunct to pharmacotherapy for treatment-resistant depression in primary care: follow-up of the CoBalT randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Psychiatry, [online] 3(2), pp.137–144.
- NHS Digital. (2018). More than half of patients who finished psychological therapy recovered in 2017-18. [online]
- Kambeitz-Ilankovic, L. et al. (2022). A systematic review of digital and face-to-face cognitive behavioral therapy for depression. npj Digital Medicine, 5(1).
- Mental Health Foundation (2022). Talking about mental health. [online]
- Mental Health America. (n.d.). Time To Talk: Tips For Talking About Your Mental Health. [online]
- Saeri, A.K. et al. (2017). Social connectedness improves public mental health: Investigating bidirectional relationships in the New Zealand attitudes and values survey. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 52(4), pp.365–374.