At Jonathan’s Voice we have promoted and advocated the need to keep talking about mental health and to empower individuals to speak up. Often one of the hardest things in talking about mental health is starting the conversation.
How do you tackle this topic? Well, some ideas and help are at hand. “Thrive LDN” is a partnership between a number of statutory bodies and supported by the Mayor of London. It aims to improve the mental health and wellbeing of all Londoners. Their web site gives details of their campaigns, core activities and has a number of excellent resources. One which is very relevant to the work of Jonathan’s Voice is their mental health conversation starter tool: SIGNSS. The aim is to help support you through a series of clear stages to start, maintain and safely close a conversation about mental health. To this end the acronym is very helpful:
Situation: Using a situation to find common ground
Initiate: Initiating a caring conversation, asking direct questions
Guide: Being a good listener, without judgement
Nudge: Prompting with positive encouragement and practical suggestions
Support and signposts: Sharing help and resources
To help underpin these stages there is a two-page fact sheet that gives you some suggestions for what to ask/say under each of the five headings. These on first glance seem to be very obvious, but often we need to be reminded that sometimes the obvious is not always the case. I found the sheet very useful in reminding me of the importance of talking to family friends and work colleagues.