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    Private GP Services & Occupational Healthcare in Edinburgh, UK.

    Mental Health: Start the conversation

    Mental Health: Start the Conversation

    Posted on June 22nd, 2024

    According to Mind, 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health issue each year. But despite these high figures, we as a nation are still notoriously bad at talking openly about mental health. And that’s exactly why Start the Conversation Day began. Every year on 3rd July, we are encouraged to check in with friends, family and loved ones and ask how they’re feeling. Three simple words, “How are you?” could start an important conversation that enables someone to finally reach out for the help they so desperately need. If you need a reminder why these conversations are so vital, take a moment to think about the following statistic. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 700,000 people die due to suicide every year. That equates to one person taking their own life every 40 seconds. Need help starting the conversation? The health experts at YourGP provide their top tips…

    Look out for warning signs

    There is such a wide range of mental health problems, and everyone can be affected differently. However, if you’ve noticed a significant change in behaviour in a friend, it’s important that you pay attention. Things to look out for include:

    • Becoming less sociable and more withdrawn
    • Change in appetite
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Problems concentrating
    • Irritable reactions
    • Taking less care in their appearance

    If these changes in behaviour continue for more than a few weeks, it is important to recognise they could be suffering from a mental health issue.

    Get the timing right

    Life is full of distractions, but it is vital that both parties give this important conversation their full attention. Allow plenty of time to talk, so think about their schedule and when they are less likely to be rushing to work or doing the school run. Ideally, choose somewhere quiet and away from crowds of people – invite them round for a cuppa or head out for a walk together, for example.

    Always ask twice

    More often than not, the question “How are you?” is answered with the automatic replay, “I’m fine”, even when you know the person really isn’t. So it can sometimes help to ask the question twice. “Are you sure you’re OK?” can open up the conversation and reassure your friend that you are willing to listen and help, and they don’t need to put on a brave face.

    Be understanding

    Conversations about mental health can be difficult. Some people might feel relieved when a friend asks how they feel and they might open up right away. Others might be more reluctant to open up for a range of reasons including:

    • Fear of being judged
    • Being confused or unable to articulate their feelings
    • Shame or embarrassment
    • Feeling they don’t want to burden others with their problems
    • Thinking no one will understand or care

    Be mindful that they are likely experiencing a range of confusing and overwhelming thoughts, feelings and emotions, so be patient.

    Be prepared to listen and help

    Practical support can be a great help to those experiencing mental health issues. Simple things such as popping round with a few groceries, taking their kids to school, or helping to clean their house can help to lighten the load. But emotional support is just as important. Make sure the person knows you are happy to listen, whenever they feel like talking. And offer to accompany them to any appointments if you think they would benefit from having a trusted friend by their side.

    Seek help at YourGP

    Here at YourGP, we work hard to create a safe, welcoming and comforting environment. Our highly experienced GPs take a ‘no rush’ approach, and we offer extended appointments so patients can take all the time they need to discuss any issues in depth. We understand that mental health issues can be highly complex, so as well as providing help and advice, we can also make onward referrals to specialists if and when required.

    Book an appointment at YourGP via our simple online booking system, email, or call us on 0131 225 5656 and we’ll be happy to arrange an appointment at a time that suits you.



    All my needs, including requests for appointments and treatment enquiries, were met with enthusiasm and sense of wanting to help. No question seemed inappropriate or trivial.

    Mr Ross

    YourGP is regulated by Healthcare Improvement Scotland – the regulator for independent healthcare services across Scotland. Healthcare Improvement Scotland accepts complaints at any time. Contact them at:

    Independent Healthcare Team
    Gyle Square | 1 South Gyle Crescent | Edinburgh | EH12 9EB
    0131 623 4342 |

    YourGP is registered with the Joint Council of Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP) Registered Office: Station Road, North Street, Havant PO9 1QU.