Address

Mind HK, Unit D, 9/F One Capital Place, 

18 Luard Road,

Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone

+852 3643 0869

Email

hello@mind.org.hk | media@mind.org.hk

Learn more: www.mind.org.hk

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© 2019 Mind HK.  All Rights Reserved.

1.

Start the Conversation

2.

Read the Cues

3.

Listen

4.

Offer Support

5.

Check in again

 

1. Start the Conversation

When?

  • Make sure there is plenty of time, when neither of you are in a rush

  • Think carefully about the timing: if you are at work, they might not want to have conversation at lunchtime. If this is the case, you could try to speak with them at the end of the day instead. Weekends work well too. 

Where?

Phone:

  • Give them a quick call/FaceTime or check in via WhatsApp 

In Person:

  • Choose a place where you will not be overheard: this can be in a private area, or a restaurant or café with enough surrounding white noise.

  • Sometimes it is more comfortable to have the conversation without being directly face to face: if so, you could sit next to them, or even go for a walk together while you check in with them. 

What?

Use open questions - questions that you cannot answer with “yes” or “no”.

 

Sample questions you can ask: 

  • How okay are you? 

  • How have things been recently? 

  • How are you? 

  • How are you feeling?

  • What has been going on for you recently?

NOT: 

  • Have you been doing ok recently? 

 

Let’s say you asked: “How okay are you?”

If they say: “I’m okay”, pay attention to their body language and nonverbal cues.

If you suspect they are not telling you the full story, gently explore further.

If they seem reluctant to talk, you could start by offering observations of things you have noticed. 

For example: “I have noticed that you haven’t been coming along to our team lunches recently, I just wondered whether everything is okay?” 

IT’S OKAY IF THEY DON’T WANT TO TALK JUST YET.

Reassure them that you are there for them, and skip to Step 5: Checking In Again.

 

2. Read the Cues

Use active listening skills to show you are really listening:

  • Reflect/mirror what they’re saying.

    • “It sounds like you’ve been having a really hard time recently.”

  • Repeat in your own words what they have said, to show you’re listening and check you have understood them right. ​

    • “So you’ve been having a really tough time with your family recently?” 

  • Be aware of your body language!

  • If they are sitting, then sit with them; if they are standing, stand with them. 

Think about other nonverbal signs:

 

DO:

  • Maintain comfortable eye contact (not staring)

  • Nod to show them you are listening

 

DO NOT:

  • Look at your phone or your watch

 

3. Listen

When engaging in conversation, DO:

 

  • Ask the questions other people aren’t asking, like: “How have things been since you have been off work?”; “Are there things you are worried about?”

  • Offer practical help where you can. “Is there anything I can do?” Encourage them to find information about where to get professional help if they need this. 

  • Validate how they are feeling. You can use statements like: “I’m so sorry to hear that you’re feeling that way, it sounds really rough” 

  • Make sure they know that you won’t gossip about what they tell you or share it with anyone else (unless you are worried about their safety; then you may need to ask who you could share your concerns with to make sure you are keeping them safe). 

  • Be positive, and show them that you have hope for their recovery. This can sound like: “Things feel bad right now, but they will get better.'' 

When engaging in conversation, DO NOT: ​​

  • Worry too much about saying the wrong thing. There is no perfect way to have these conversations - they are difficult. As long as you are caring and nonjudgmental, the conversation will be helpful. 

  • Make assumptions, or try to solve their problems for them. You may not be able to do anything for them, so the most helpful thing you can do is listen and be there for them. 

  • Judge or shame them for their feelings. Avoid statements like: “Don’t worry”, “there’s nothing to be depressed about”, or “just think positive”. 

  • Treat them any differently because they have a mental health problem. They are still the same person. 

  • Be patronising, and sound like you are better than them. We all go through tough times that are hard to overcome. 

Ask yourself:

Are you the best person to speak to them? If you don’t think you are the most appropriate person, can you sensitively and privately raise your concern with someone else who can reach out to them?

You can find a list of service providers here:

 

4. Offer support

5. Check in again

Let them know that you're there for them and that they can reach out to you if they need anything.