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It’s Awkward But…

What’s it all about?

Life is full of awkward moments.

We’ve all waved back at someone only to realise they are waving at the person behind us, or asked someone to repeat themselves for the third time and having to pretend that you know what they’ve said.

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Life is also full of awkward convos

When someone gets the wrong end of the stick and you have to correct them or when you’re on a date and you realise you have nothing in common. 

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One conversation that can be awkward (but shouldn’t be!) is the mental health convo.

We believe that instigating the awkward convo is necessary to get the support you, or the person you’re talking to, need. 

We believe that all young people should be engaged in positive conversations about mental health, this won’t happen without us all getting a little awkward for the greater good of smashing the stigma around mental health. 

Next time you are unsure of whether or not to check in with someone you’re worried about, or you feel weird about telling someone how you’ve been feeling, remember this:

It might be awkward,
but do it anyway. 

Time to get your awkward on.
Have the convo. 

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We know that it can be hard to take the first step. To reach out for support or to reach out to someone who you think may be struggling is sometimes awkward! The truth is that conversations about mental health don’t have to be difficult to navigate. Like most things in life, the more we do it, the easier it gets. There’s no time like the present, so let’s get stuck in.

How to tell someone you are struggling.

One of the most important things to remember when we are going through a tough time is that we are not alone. It may feel like it sometimes, but there is always someone to talk to and always someone who cares. 

If you are in need of urgent support or are worried about someone, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you feel your life is in danger call 000.

1. Before the conversation:

  • Choose a person who you trust. This will mean different things to everyone. A family member, a friend, a teacher, a GP. 
  • Choose a time when you know the person you are reaching out to doesn’t have to rush off somewhere. If you’re finding it hard to find the right time or keep holding back when the moment comes, plan a time with them. This will mean that they’ll understand it’s important and it will also keep you accountable. 

“I feel like I need to get some things off my chest, can we make some time to chat in the next few days?”

2. During the conversation:

  • Starting the conversation can often be the trickiest part, remember that the person you are opening up to cares about you. If you don’t know what to say use one of these phrases:

“I’ve been feeling pretty anxious recently and I just need someone to talk to – do you have some time?”

“I’m going through a tough time right now and would really appreciate someone to talk to, I feel really comfortable with you, do you have time to chat?”

  • If you are talking to someone who isn’t a mental health professional, don’t expect them to have all the answers. Assure them that you just need someone to listen to you.

3. After the conversation:

  • Be kind to yourself! Reaching out and being vulnerable shows a huge strength of character, take the time to be proud of yourself. 
  • If you didn’t get the response you’d hoped for, reach out to someone else. There are lots of reasons why someone may not respond in a helpful manner, they may simply not know how to support you or you could have caught them at a bad time. Choose someone else you trust and keep reaching out until you get the support you need! 

How to start the convo with someone you are worried about.

One of the things that can stop us having a conversation is being worried that we will say the wrong thing, or that we will make the situation worse, or that we will not be able to deal with whatever happens. By saying something like ‘Hey, I noticed you’ve been a bit run down recently, is everything okay?’ – you are not going to make the situation any worse, it shows you care and are ready to listen.

1. Before the conversation:

  • Make sure you are in a good headspace
  • Choose a time when you don’t have to rush off 
  • Choose a meeting place where you will both feel comfortable

2. During the conversation:

  • Listen with an open mind and never judge them! This may be the first time they’ve spoken to anyone about what they’re feeling so it’s important they feel heard. 
  • Encourage them to keep talking! Ask open ended questions and try to understand where that person is coming from. 
  • Remember you are not a mental health professional! You are a mate, it’s not your job to solve all of the problems your friend is dealing with, it’s your job to listen to them, support them, and be a good friend. 
  • Let them know there options! Direct them to professional support, so someone with a wall full of special university degrees (who is very good at this kind of thing) can help them with what they are experiencing. They can visit their local GP, go to their local headspace centre, or visit reachout.com

3. After the conversation:

  • If the person hasn’t been in the right mindset to talk, don’t be disheartened. We can always keep trying and each attempt will hopefully make them a little more comfortable with the idea of eventually opening up. 
  • If they did open up make sure they know that because they’ve opened up to you it doesn’t mean anything changed between you! We all go through good and bad mental health and it doesn’t change your friendship. Send them a message reinforcing that you’re always there to chat if they need. 
  • Look after yourself! Listening can take its toll on our own wellbeing, so check in with yourself and if your conversation with a mate begins to stir up some unpleasant feelings within you then practice what you’re preaching and reach out for support yourself.

“Lots of our speakers talk about really different ways that their friends reached out to them. Some people talk about having big conversations, some people talk about friends showing up at their house with pizza, and some people talk about having a breakthrough moment while having coffee. The point is that supporting our friends can take a variety of different forms, but the important part is that we are showing our mates that we are going to listen, and that we care about them. Just like the fact that mental health issues can affect anyone, the power of the conversation can help anyone too.”

Steph, batyr facilitator

Helpful resources to check out:

  • R U OK? Day have some incredible resources about how to start a conversation with someone you’re concerned about. Check out there tips here
  • Beyond Blue have come up with awesome App called Check-in. It’s free to download and gives you a few hints and tips about how to have these conversations. This App is a great starting point if you’re a bit nervous about having that conversation. Learn more and download the app here
  • ReachOut have some more pointers on how to ask a friend if they are okay in this great article here

How this campaign was created.

We are proud to say that this campaign was created by four incredible young people! Stephanie, Sabrina, Lily & Mikayla are all students at the University of Technology Sydney and chose to work with us as part of their Industry Innovation Project.

“It’s Awkward But. Three words, which hold the power to start a difficult but important conversation around mental health. As young people, we want to overcome the inherent stigma faced by our generation. In collaboration with batyr, we had the opportunity to bring our campaign to life, which acknowledges the awkwardness and truly recognises the elephant in the room.”

Stephanie, Sabrina, Lily and Mikayla