How To Talk About Mental Health: Communi... - October Health

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How To Talk About Mental Health: Communication Tips And Pitfalls

Mental health is an integral part of our overall wellbeing, and discussing it openly at work can create a more supportive and understanding environment. However, talking about mental health can be sensitive, and it’s important to approach these conversations with care. Here are some communication tips and pitfalls to be aware of.

Communication Tips

1. Normalize the Conversation

Start by making mental health a normal and regular topic of conversation. This can be achieved by participating in workplace initiatives, such as those offered by October, or sharing educational content on mental health.

- Organize or attend digital group sessions provided by October to foster an environment where mental health is a common point of discussion.
- Share articles and resources provided by October that offer insights into mental health conditions and coping strategies.

2. Practice Active Listening

When someone is talking to you about their mental health, practice active listening. This involves being fully present in the moment and showing empathy.

- Listen without interrupting.
- Show empathy through affirmative responses like nodding and using phrases like "I understand" or "That must be hard."

3. Use Appropriate Language

Words matter. Use language that is free of stigma and judgment.

- Use person-first language (e.g., "person with depression" instead of "depressed person").
- Avoid terms that trivialize mental health (e.g., "crazy" or "psycho").

4. Prioritize Privacy and Consent

Always prioritize the individual’s privacy and seek consent before sharing their personal information.

- Ask permission before discussing someone’s mental health situation with others.
- Assure them of confidentiality where appropriate.

5. Offer Support

When someone confides in you about their mental health, offer support or resources available, like the ones provided by October.

- Suggest utilizing October’s assessments or content to better understand mental health issues.
- Encourage them to participate in October’s digital group sessions for communal support.
- Remind them that October’s EAP is a resource for additional professional support.

Pitfalls to Avoid

1. Avoid Making Assumptions

Assumptions can lead to misunderstandings and can be harmful to the person seeking support.

- Don’t assume you know what the person is experiencing.
- Avoid jumping to conclusions about what might help them.

2. Don't Overshare

While sharing your own experiences can sometimes be helpful, oversharing can derail the focus from the person who is seeking support.

- Share only what is necessary to facilitate understanding.
- Continually refocus the conversation on their needs and feelings.

3. Don't Try to Diagnose

Unless you are a trained mental health professional, avoid diagnosing someone’s experience or giving unsolicited advice.

- Avoid suggesting diagnoses or unsolicited advice.
- Encourage professional help through October’s EAP when appropriate.

4. Avoid Minimizing Feelings

It's important not to belittle or dismiss another person's mental health concerns.

- Don’t use phrases like “It’s all in your head” or “Just snap out of it.”
- Acknowledge the validity of their feelings and experiences.

5. Don't Be Judgmental

Creating a safe space for someone to talk about mental health involves withholding judgment.

- Avoid expressing judgments or criticisms about their feelings or choices.
- Maintain an open-minded and supportive posture.


Opening up about mental health at work takes courage, and how we respond can have a significant impact. By normalizing the conversation, practicing active listening, using appropriate language, prioritizing privacy, and offering support, we can make the workplace a safer and more supportive environment for these discussions.

Remember, October’s digital group sessions, assessments, and content can serve as invaluable resources when navigating these conversations. Encouraging the use of these tools can help foster a culture of understanding and support around mental health in the workplace.

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Disclaimer: The creation of this content was assisted by an artificial intelligence (AI) technology powered by the October Companion. While every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy and reliability, we cannot guarantee that it’s error-free or suitable for your intended use. The information provided is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. We recommend that you consult with a qualified professional for guidance specific to your individual circumstances. We do not accept any liability for any loss or damage that may arise from reliance on the information provided in this content.