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Communicating about your mental health can be hard. To communicate is how you understand and share your feelings or information. Mental health is about how you think and how you feel. Before you communicate with someone about your mental health, it is helpful to think about:
- what communicating about your mental health is
- why communicating about your mental health is important
- the best way to communicate about your mental health
- how to let health workers know how you like to communicate
- how you can use tools to help you communicate about your mental health.
Communicating about your mental health
There are many ways to communicate about mental health. You may want to communicate to someone you trust about:
- your feelings
- when you feel different to normal (e.g. you are sad or worried more often than you usually are)
- changes in your activities (e.g. you do not feel like seeing people you usually visit)
- if your daily tasks are becoming more difficult (e.g. you find it harder to clean your house)
- why you feel the way you do
- what would make you feel better.
It is OK if you do not want to share everything. Only tell the person the things you are comfortable sharing.
Why communicating about your mental health is important
Communicating with others about your mental health can help you:
- feel better
- get help if you need it.
The best way to communicate about your mental health
Here are some examples about how to communicate about your feelings:
|How you feel||When you feel this way||Why you feel this way||What you want|
|I feel happy||When we talk about Harry Potter||Because I like Harry Potter||I want to talk more about Harry Potter|
|I feel worried||When you close the door in your office||Because I think I am trapped||I want to leave the door open for our appointments|
|I feel angry||When I spend all day at home||Because I am bored||I want to go out more|
It is OK if you do not know:
- how you feel
- why you feel this way.
You could just tell the person you feel different.
What you can do if you do not know how to communicate about your mental health
You may feel you need help with your mental health. Here are some ways you could ask someone you trust for support.
You could communicate or say:
- I feel different to normal, I need some help
- I would like to talk about how I am feeling
- I feel
- something has happened to me, I am worried
- I have noticed changes in my life. For example:
- I have trouble getting out of bed
- I do not feel like eating
- I do not want to see my friends.
You do not have to communicate with someone if you do not want to.
Some people are not sure how to support someone with their mental health. If the person you ask for support does not know how to help you, you can try talking to another person you trust or ask them to find someone who can help.
For more information about where to get help for your mental health visit Where to start to get help.
Let health workers know how you like to communicate
It is good to let health workers know how you like to communicate. This may be a doctor such as your GP or a mental health worker.
Knowing how you communicate will help:
- them to understand you better
- you to understand them better.
You can let health workers know how you would like to communicate when you make an appointment, and at your first appointment.
If you need help explaining how you like to communicate, you can ask family, friends or someone who supports you to help. You could also include the information in a health passport such as the Council for Intellectual Disability’s My Health Matters folder.
How you can use tools to help you communicate about your mental health
- written text
- body movements
- sign language
- symbols. e.g. pointing to a frowny face when you do not feel good.
You can use communication tools to show others how you feel. You can share when you feel good and when you do not feel good.
Some common communication tools you can use to show someone how you feel are:
- a feelings thermometer
- a feelings diary.
There is more information on these tools below.
When we have different feelings, it can change:
- how we think
- how our bodies feel
- what we do.
A feelings thermometer can help you notice your feelings and choose what to do when you feel this way.
A feelings thermometer has:
- a colour for each feeling
- a picture for each feeling
- some ideas on what you can do when you do not feel good.
It is OK not to feel good sometimes. We can try changing what we do to help us feel better.
You can make a feelings thermometer right for you using CID’s feelings thermometer on page 30 of their My Health Matters Folder.
A feelings diary is a place where you:
- take a photo or video
about your thoughts and feelings.
A diary is a place where you keep information. Your feelings diary can be on:
- your phone
- your computer.
In your feelings diary you can communicate about:
- something that happened
- how it made you feel
- how strong the feeling was
- how your body felt
- if you might have done anything differently.
You can share your feelings diary with someone you trust. You do not have to share your feelings diary. It is your choice.