It’s ’Time to Talk’ Day
It is not always easy to talk about what is going on internally. Often it can feel easier to put a “fake” smile on your face and pretend everything is ok. But that isn’t sustainable. The problem with keeping our struggles to ourselves is those feelings have to come out and they will in one way or another. The longer we try to ignore our feelings, hiding them from others, the worse it may be when they finally emerge.
That is why February 6 was named National Time to Talk to Day. It is a day to bring awareness to mental health and encourage people to open up about their experiences. It is a day for talking. Nearly 20% of Americans will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, but many people don’t share out of fear, embarrassment, and social stigma.
At CW Psychological Services in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania we aim to provide a comfortable environment where people can feel safe sharing and finding healing. Healing can’t occur until we open up, whether to a neutral party like a counselor or therapist, a friend or family member, or in a journal. We have to face our realities in order to make positive change.
You Are Not Alone
Mental health challenges are not rare. Depression, anxiety, trauma, attachment difficulties, stress, PTSD, ADHD, gender and sexual identity issues, and more impact millions of people every year. In fact…
- One in Four people will suffer from a mental health problem this year
- Nine out of 10 people who experience mental health problems say they face stigma and discrimination because of it
- Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States
- Children at a very young age may show early warning signs of mental health concerns, such as irritability, decreased interest in activities, mood swings, excessive worrying, difficulty concentrating, trouble sleeping, poor school performance, and aggressive behavior, among other things.
Creating a Sharing Environment
Encouraging people to open up requires them to be comfortable in the moment. In a crowded or tension-filled space, they may retreat further within. What are some ways you can create an environment that promotes sharing?
1.) Keep it small – People are more willing to share with a couple of close, trusted friends than they are with a group of people. If you want to encourage friends or family to open up to you, consider gathering one-on-one or with a couple of trusted people.
2.) Choose a private space — The best places to share are quiet, private spaces. Take a friend to a small, intimate dinner or invite them to your home. If you are trying to reach your teen, take them on a small outing and encourage conversation in the car, or suggest you rent a movie at home and try to initiate conversation before or after.
3.) Be casual – Don’t come right out and say “Hey it’s time to talk day, let’s talk.” Instead, bring up mental health casually in conversation, “You know it’s ok if you are struggling,” “You have seemed a bit down lately, everything going ok?”
4.) Be open-minded — Keep your ears open. Don’t jump to conclusions about where a conversation is headed before it’s finished. Listen and only chime in when time and space allow. Remember you are trying to provide a judgment-free, safe space.
5.) Talk over treats — Comfort foods can provide just that, comfort. Consider having difficult conversations over coffee, tea, cupcakes, ice cream, or other treats.
6.) Make it active — Suggest going for a walk together. Movement combined with fresh air can help release feel-good hormones encouraging safe, productive conversation.
Talking Helps Prevent
Talking or writing about what we are thinking and feeling provides a release. It helps us to let it go, gain understanding, and promote healing. Talking about family history and traumatic events can help to prevent the escalation of feelings into severe mental illness. Addressing known risk factors such as addiction, exposure to trauma, and educational and social factors can help increase awareness. If people are aware that they may be on the verge of a more serious mental health condition, they can get help before it gets out of control.
Mental illness can feel like the most lonely thing in the world but you are not alone. There are so many people in the world who are struggling and fighting their own internal battles. The more we talk about these things, the easier it gets. Lean on each other, join a support group, and/or talk to a counselor or therapist.
Ready to begin counseling in Pennsylvania?
Counselors and associate-level clinicians at CW Psychological Services are professionally trained. We have openings for online, or telehealth, therapy appointments. Email us at [email protected] or call (610) 308-7575. We are here for you.