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Tips for Starting Mental
Health Conversations
Helping
you to help
your child
Practical tips for positive conversations
when you're worried about someone's
mental health
If you're worried about a friend, a child in
your care or a colleague and you feel you
need to have a conversation about their
mental health or emotional wellbeing and
you don't know where to start, you're not
alone!
Many people are unsure about how to start
the conversation, so here are some ideas,
inspired by people whose friends or loved
ones did start the conversation.
Good luck, you've got this...
Introduction
It can be hard
to know how
to start the
conversation
when you're
worried
pookyknightsmith.com | @pookyh
Pooky x
If you’re worried about someone, finding
the courage to have the conversation once
is likely not to be enough. They may have
had ongoing issues for some time and they
may be absolutely terrified to open up
about them. They may fear the reaction
they’ll receive. They may be upset or
confused about their own thoughts or
feelings. They might simply not have the
right words to say. So don’t just ask once.
Persevere with your offers of kindness and
listening, you never know when the right
moment for the conversation might arise.
pookyknightsmith.com | @pookyh
Persevere
-1-
It took me a lot of time to be
honest about what was going on. It
was about the fifth time she asked
that I finally admitted something was
wrong
This could be a pretty intense conversation
and might simply feel a bit too much one-to-
one. Talking about these issues whilst doing
something else you both enjoy might help to
break the ice a bit and let the conversation
flow slightly less intensely.
If in doubt, get walking whilst you're talking.
Things will feel less intense and the
conversation will start to flow.
pookyknightsmith.com | @pookyh
Chat whilst doing
-2-
My friend finally opened up to me
when we were skating in the park.
I guess it felt a bit less intense and
we were relaxed
Even if you fumble over your words or don’t
say quite the right thing, saying something
shows we care and it gets the conversation
started. The more we’re open to these
conversations the more quickly we’ll learn
the right and wrong things to say. At the
start, the only wrong thing to say is nothing
at all.
pookyknightsmith.com | @pookyh
Say something
-3-
I didn’t know what to say but eventually
realised that the only wrong thing to
say was nothing, so I just got on with it
and started the conversation. It felt a
bit awkward at first but not for long
Just because they might have a mental
health issue doesn’t mean someone suddenly
turns into a completely different person. Just
talk to them as you always have – draw on
the things that normally fuel your
conversations and make you feel good
together.
Remember what you love about them instead
of being scared of the things you don't
understand yet.
pookyknightsmith.com | @pookyh
Act normally
-4-
My Mum gave me some really good advice,
she said ‘He’s still your friend, nothing can
change that, just talk to him like you would
about anything else, he might be ill but he’s
not a different person.
pookyknightsmith.com | @pookyh
Don’t judge
-5-
Those of us with mental health issues live in
constant fear of judgement. A good friend,
parent or carer never judges, they just open
their arms and hearts and offer unconditional
support.
Make it clear that you are that person from
early on in the conversation; you won’t
believe the relief your words and actions will
bring.
I was worried about what my parents
would think about me – it was really
important to me to know that they
wouldn’t judge me because of my self-
harm - but they didn't
pookyknightsmith.com | @pookyh
Let them tell their story
-6- Don’t assume or guess what the person
you're worried about is going through or why
they feel the way they do. Instead, just
listen.
Let them tell their own story, even if that is
slow or difficult at times. It can be hard,
especially when they’re just getting started
with opening up, but it’s their story, not
yours – listening is the very most helpful and
important thing you can do just now.
The most helpful thing my Dad did
was just listen and let me talk
pookyknightsmith.com | @pookyh
Think about next steps
-7-
If the person you're worried about feels safe
opening up to you, discuss with them what
you might do together to try to make things a
little easier. What support could you seek
and how could you go about that together?
The journey is a lot less lonely and terrifying
when you have someone to accompany you.
I was too scared to ask for any help,
but my friend helped me realise why it
was important, and she came with me
too so I didn't have to do it all alone
I've been able to produce this, thanks to the community
who support my work on Patreon.


If you already support me on patreon, THANK YOU. If
you don't, please consider supporting me at
patreon.com/pookyh - you'll get instant access to a wide
range of guides and videos to help you to help your
child and you'll help to fund my future work for you
and others like you.












Helping
you to help
your child
- Thank You! -
Pooky x

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Tips for Starting Mental Health Conversations.pdf

  • 1. Tips for Starting Mental Health Conversations Helping you to help your child Practical tips for positive conversations when you're worried about someone's mental health
  • 2. If you're worried about a friend, a child in your care or a colleague and you feel you need to have a conversation about their mental health or emotional wellbeing and you don't know where to start, you're not alone! Many people are unsure about how to start the conversation, so here are some ideas, inspired by people whose friends or loved ones did start the conversation. Good luck, you've got this... Introduction It can be hard to know how to start the conversation when you're worried pookyknightsmith.com | @pookyh Pooky x
  • 3. If you’re worried about someone, finding the courage to have the conversation once is likely not to be enough. They may have had ongoing issues for some time and they may be absolutely terrified to open up about them. They may fear the reaction they’ll receive. They may be upset or confused about their own thoughts or feelings. They might simply not have the right words to say. So don’t just ask once. Persevere with your offers of kindness and listening, you never know when the right moment for the conversation might arise. pookyknightsmith.com | @pookyh Persevere -1- It took me a lot of time to be honest about what was going on. It was about the fifth time she asked that I finally admitted something was wrong
  • 4. This could be a pretty intense conversation and might simply feel a bit too much one-to- one. Talking about these issues whilst doing something else you both enjoy might help to break the ice a bit and let the conversation flow slightly less intensely. If in doubt, get walking whilst you're talking. Things will feel less intense and the conversation will start to flow. pookyknightsmith.com | @pookyh Chat whilst doing -2- My friend finally opened up to me when we were skating in the park. I guess it felt a bit less intense and we were relaxed
  • 5. Even if you fumble over your words or don’t say quite the right thing, saying something shows we care and it gets the conversation started. The more we’re open to these conversations the more quickly we’ll learn the right and wrong things to say. At the start, the only wrong thing to say is nothing at all. pookyknightsmith.com | @pookyh Say something -3- I didn’t know what to say but eventually realised that the only wrong thing to say was nothing, so I just got on with it and started the conversation. It felt a bit awkward at first but not for long
  • 6. Just because they might have a mental health issue doesn’t mean someone suddenly turns into a completely different person. Just talk to them as you always have – draw on the things that normally fuel your conversations and make you feel good together. Remember what you love about them instead of being scared of the things you don't understand yet. pookyknightsmith.com | @pookyh Act normally -4- My Mum gave me some really good advice, she said ‘He’s still your friend, nothing can change that, just talk to him like you would about anything else, he might be ill but he’s not a different person.
  • 7. pookyknightsmith.com | @pookyh Don’t judge -5- Those of us with mental health issues live in constant fear of judgement. A good friend, parent or carer never judges, they just open their arms and hearts and offer unconditional support. Make it clear that you are that person from early on in the conversation; you won’t believe the relief your words and actions will bring. I was worried about what my parents would think about me – it was really important to me to know that they wouldn’t judge me because of my self- harm - but they didn't
  • 8. pookyknightsmith.com | @pookyh Let them tell their story -6- Don’t assume or guess what the person you're worried about is going through or why they feel the way they do. Instead, just listen. Let them tell their own story, even if that is slow or difficult at times. It can be hard, especially when they’re just getting started with opening up, but it’s their story, not yours – listening is the very most helpful and important thing you can do just now. The most helpful thing my Dad did was just listen and let me talk
  • 9. pookyknightsmith.com | @pookyh Think about next steps -7- If the person you're worried about feels safe opening up to you, discuss with them what you might do together to try to make things a little easier. What support could you seek and how could you go about that together? The journey is a lot less lonely and terrifying when you have someone to accompany you. I was too scared to ask for any help, but my friend helped me realise why it was important, and she came with me too so I didn't have to do it all alone
  • 10. I've been able to produce this, thanks to the community who support my work on Patreon. If you already support me on patreon, THANK YOU. If you don't, please consider supporting me at patreon.com/pookyh - you'll get instant access to a wide range of guides and videos to help you to help your child and you'll help to fund my future work for you and others like you. Helping you to help your child - Thank You! - Pooky x