Why listening skills are key to identifying mental health struggles
Safeera Sarjoo

Why listening skills are key to identifying mental health struggles

The Time to Talk Campaign encourages open dialogue, but learning how to listen can be just as effective

First published date February 01 2018 Amended date February 01 2018

Listening skills are often associated with the workplace, when collaborating across teams and is a quality highly regarded in professional capacities. However, it’s also a skill that’s important when it comes to the Time to Talk Campaign.

Centred around mental health, the campaign aims to normalise the dialogue on mental health issues so that people experiencing them don’t feel isolated when speaking up.

Whether it’s popping the kettle on, out on a walk or over lunch, approaching the subject of mental health and really reflecting on the struggles people face can have tremendous effects in creating a safe space for sufferers to open up, acknowledging a problem and even seeking help.

With so many social networks that encourage people’s opinions, taking a step back can feel as though you’re not doing your part. However active listening can be more effective and comes about with patience and practice.

What are some symptoms of mental health issues?

According to the careers website Debut, there are signs to look out for if you suspect someone might be suffering from a mental illness and active listening has a big part to play in this.

Someone who is always worried or stressed might actually be suffering from anxiety. This can sometimes manifest into physical symptoms such as shortness of breath and nausea.

People who constantly criticise themselves is a big sign that they may be experiencing depression. Debut explains that this can be ‘dangerous behaviour because someone who really hates themselves may try to hurt themselves.’

It is estimated that one in four people this year will encounter a mental health issue according to the Time to Change website. While it is encouraged to talk openly about the different forms of mental health, it’s also important to remain open to listening.

The Mental Health Foundation tweeted that the average adult will say “I’m fine” 14 times a week, but only 19% really mean it.

This is where active listening comes into play.

Australian careers website SEEK speaks about the impact this skill can have in a professional environment.

In an article it states that ‘when you’re actively engaged and listening to your peers’ concerns or wider business issues, you can gain a better understanding of the problem and subsequently formulate the most optimal and accurate solutions.’ This is no different in a personal capacity when it comes to listening to a friend or colleague’s concern surrounding their mental wellbeing.

Though the Time to Talk Campaign falls on Feb 1st, it’s important to remain consistent in speaking openly about mental wellbeing. If you’d like to understand more about mental health, there are a number of courses you can take run by colleges around the UK that can go a long way in furthering your understanding in identifying when an individual may be presenting symptoms.

Search for this and much more on Hotcourses today. 

Safeera Sarjoo

Safeera is Editor of Whatuni and a journalist from Kingston University. Always the inquisitive, her writing spans across a number of areas such as sustainability, fashion, lifestyle and now education. Her belief that you never stop learning and passionate nature has taken her to New York City as part of her degree and across the airwaves on national radio talking about the issues that matter to her.