Its good to talk

Or so British telecom used to say… But the truth is – it IS good to talk to be sure, it depends whom you talk to and how you go about it. But repressing it all in the name of the British stiff upper lip or male machismo will one day make your head explode!

Whilst talking about the footy is a start, the chances are that you will also want to go a little bit deeper than that. If you struggle with emotions or have a diagnosed mental health problem, then talking to someone else can also be a great release. However there are some things NOT to say and some things to say instead.

Just being there to listen, can literally save lives. I have spoke to me whose first ‘communication’ was to harm themselves. It’s better to talk instead.

Don’t say that – say this

Here are three well-meaning things I have heard said – followed by what someone who is depressed might hear instead – followed by something to say instead.

You say – Come on, lad, snap out of it
They hear – Everyone else can, so what’s the problem?
Say instead – A few of us are going to the cinema tonight – would you like to come?

You say – You have to choose whether to believe your thoughts
They hear – If I had a choice, would I not have chosen to do this?
Say instead – Could I help you find someone to help you with your thoughts / accompany you to see your GP?

You say – Have you tried reading your Bible / praying about it
They hear – I’ve been a Christian for ten years, what do you think?
Say instead – Would it be OK if I prayed for you? Would it be helpful if I came to church with you?

Tips when talking to men

Men are fairly simple, and we should keep it simple – no psychoanalysis needed! Its time to ditch the ‘men are from mars’ books and try some of these ideas instead.

  1. Go for a walk/drive/jog. Men talk better when you are doing stuff alongside them – rather than sitting across the table from them. It allows the talking to stop and start and pause naturally with no awkward gaps.
  2. Start low and go slow. Don’t jump in as the amateur therapist (which is never a good idea, by the way) but start of with some banter (football if you must!), then some listening (and then listen again), then move on to simple offers (‘I am going to the shops – can you pick anything up for you?’) and open questions (‘Can you tell me any more? How do you think this came about?’)
  3. Don’t spread yourself too thinly. Men rarely have a large number of deep friendships – though extroverts can have hundreds of superficial ones. Take a note of who you are close to and value these people. If you don’t have any such friendships, you may need to sacrifice some superficial ones to make the time. There are enough relationships to go round!

A longer version of this article and more resources about Christianity and Mental Health are available at www.mindandsoul.info