Published on January 25th, 2017 | from CAMH

Let’s Talk, but Let’s Listen too

By Jay Sivakumar, member of the CAMH National Youth Advisory Committee (NYAC)

Engaging in conversations is a critical step in raising awareness and reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues. In the same vein, it is crucial to know how to actively and conscientiously listen. Talking about sensitive issues such as PTSD and depression can be challenging and emotional. This is compounded by the fact that individuals who are struggling with mental health often feel marginalized in society. As a result, it is imperative to make yourself available by lending an ear.

4 steps to become a better listener:

  1. Make Eye Contact
    Creating and maintaining eye contact during a conversation promotes the idea that you are comfortable with receiving sensitive information. This also reinforces the fact that your mind is acutely focused on the information exchange.
  1. Keep an Eye on Your Body Language
    Having an attentive body language signals the idea that the dialogue you are mindfully engaged. If you have shrugged shoulders and are perusing through your cell phone, it becomes hard for someone to partake in a meaningful and productive discussion.
  1. Ask Questions
    Sometimes people feel uncomfortable asking about the particulars of a family member or friend’s mental health status. However, asking questions, when necessary and appropriate, makes people feel that the dialogue is relevant. It also shows those who are struggling that you care about them and want to understand them more cohesively.
  1. Follow Up
    Make sure you follow-up your conversations and pay attention to critical details. For example, if a friend or family member is facing depression and anxiety, and they indicate they are struggling to balance school or work, give them a call to see how they are doing and talk about different coping strategies.

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