IT’s the day of the year where people are encouraged to make time to talk.

But according to one leading mental health expert, making time to support someone is only one part of the role you can play in offering help.

Counsellor and author Lynn Crilly said five small steps can assist you in provide the vital advice needed to break down stigma.

Lynn said: “Talking about mental health helps to improve our communities and society, making it more acceptable for those suffering a mental illness to come forward and ask for help without fear of judgment. But in doing so we must also remember that mental health is not only about mental illness. It is also about maintaining a positive and healthy state of mind. Starting a conversation can often be the biggest hurdle.”

Lynn’s work in supporting those with mental ill health has been inspired by her family and her own experiences.  Twenty years ago her daughter, Samantha, was diagnosed with an eating disorder and over the past two decades she’s also battled OCD and mental ill health.

Lynn adds: “Our family journey started 20 years ago in 2004 and I know how lonely and isolated I felt because mental health was not so talked about then, it carried stigma and was the elephant in the room that everyone was afraid to talk about. It was only as our personal journey as a family progressed and we all opened up about it, that I realised just how many people were struggling in silence with a loved one or themselves. So I speak from personal and professional experience when I say talking and normalising mental health should be encouraged everyday. We need t all work together to make this happen for everyone.”

Making time to talk is key. Once you’ve made the time, these tips can help provide the best way to open the conservation.”


Lynn’s advice:

  1. Time: Make sure you have time to follow through on your conversation without interruption.


  1. Ask Twice: When asked ‘How are you?’ we often say ‘Fine’ even when we are not, so remember to ask again ‘are you really ok?’ this second time may encourage them to be more open and honest about how they really feel.


  1. Be Kind: Kindness is free and is the most priceless gift you can give to yourself and to others. Do not compare or judge and if you do have concerns or are worried about someone then encourage them to go to a health professional.


  1. Listen: Listening without judgment or advice can often be what the person needs just to be heard. Letting the person say what is on their mind in a safe and supportive environment can often be the start of them getting the right help.


  1. Be Honest: Being open and honest about your own mental health experiences can help to reduce the stigma and encourage the person to open up about theirs. You do not have to have the solution or the answers but just by listening and knowing you are there can be enough.