<span class='p-name'>How to Talk About Mental Health</span>

How to Talk About Mental Health

As many of us begin to head back to more face-to-face interactions with others, it is important to reflect on some of the challenges we’ve had over the last year. The materials below are from a session I organized with Adam Jordan on how to talk about mental health and well-being.

Let’s face it… Times are tough.

We are nearing 18 months of living through a global pandemic while many of our requirements have hardly lessened. The same is true for our colleagues and students. In this post, we’d like to discuss the ways in which we can look out for ourselves and one another.

If you are someone who was struggling to cope when things were normal, the sudden upheaval of our lives due to the pandemic is a call to action. Perhaps now is the time to really think about changes you can make.

While this process must be a continuous engagement, we’d like to start by offering a few tips on discussing well-being, followed by some helpful resources, and concluding with some questions to facilitate a conversation about how we can differentiate and collaborate. 

The phrases “Mental Health” and “Well-Being” have become buzzwords in our field. However, it is difficult to discuss subjective phrases and have a focused conversation. Consider approaching your conversations from a focus on well-being in which to center conversations this year.

The PERMA Model

One of many possibilities is the PERMA model from Martin Seligman. Seligman and colleagues frame well-being in the confines of five validated constructs:

  • P = Positive Emotions (Do you subjectively feel good?)
  • E = Engagement (How invested do you feel?)
  • R = Relationships (Do you feel connected to others?)
  • M = Meaning (Do you feel purpose in what you’re doing?)
  • A = Accomplishment (Are you able to feel successful right now?)

Centering our conversations with others around a lens of well-being and away from vague terms like mental health allows us to have meaningful conversations.

Instead of asking questions like, “Do you feel mentally healthy?” we think about our own well-being and talk to others about feelings of purpose and meaning in our lives.

Generate well-being

We all know that life can be challenging at times. This post and the graphic below helps provide some great ideas for self-care using the PERMA frame as guidance.

Spend some time thinking about changes that can not only reduce stress and improve our mood but also enable us to build resilience for future challenges.

Some Helpful Resources

Emotional Wellness Toolkit from the National Institutes of Health

PERMA Model of Well-Being

COVID-19’s Impact on College Student Mental Health

A new survey finds that incoming first-year students suffer from increased levels of depression, loneliness and hopelessness.

Photo by Thomas Kinto on Unsplash

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