February 1st marks Time to Talk Day, a national awareness day designed to open up the conversation around mental health.  There has never been a better time to check in with your loved ones, friends and family to see how they really are. It’s not always easy to know how to start a conversation around mental health so we have put together some top tips below on how to approach these conversations: 


  1. Ask open questions – Asking someone how are you feeling? Rather than are you okay will lead to an answer that isn’t just yes or no. Other open questions you can use can be ‘How’s your day been’, How are you doing today? 

  2. Ask twice – If someone responds with ‘I’m fine’ or ‘I’m good’, try asking again as you may get a more meaningful response, you could ask ‘how are you really feeling’, just the simple act of asking twice can make all the difference. 

  3. Listen rather than immediately offering solutions – It can be tempting to try and offer your own personal experiences with an issue or to try and advise or coach a person on how to handle a situation they are struggling with but by just listening and asking questions you will find that this will give you clues about how they are really feeling. Read their body language and tone of voice and respect that person’s thoughts and feelings in a non-judgemental way.

  4. Be knowledgeable – There is support out there if you just know where to look! You could suggest someone speaks with their GP or reaches out to a specialist charity depending on the issue they are struggling with. If someone has thoughts about ending their own life or they are in need of immediate mental health support you can call the Samaritans on 116 123. 

  5. Look after yourself too – Although being somebody else’s listening ear is invaluable for them, making sure you are allowing yourself reflection time is really important. Ultimately there may be topics that are discussed that you can also relate too so it’s vital to take care of yourself when you are being a support for someone else.


No matter how hard you try people may not be ready to open up but its good to remind yourself of how to spot the signs and symptoms of someone who may need a listening ear or friendly chat. Common signs or symptoms of someone struggling are: 

  • Eating more or less than normal.

  • Mood swings.

  • Low self-esteem.

  • Feeling tense or anxious.

  • Not sleeping properly (or wanting to sleep all the time)

  • Poor memory or forgetfulness.

  • Excessive drinking and/or drug use.

  • Feeling really tired and lacking in energy.

For further help and support and to see how we can support your employees today contact us through the ‘Request a demo’ button. If you already have access to our award winning service then for more hints and tips check-out the InsideOut app or contact your account manager.

By Dr Becky Lunson Southall & Amy Patterson