Start with empathy
Reported by mental health charity Mind, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England.
The cornerstone of any effective mental health communication is empathy. Mental health issues can stem from a wide range of causes, including loneliness, trauma, debt, bereavement, health conditions, work stress and lifestyle factors.
Empathy is the secret sauce to successful mental health communications. Understand that mental health is a deeply personal and often sensitive topic for many. Approach your audience with genuine empathy, recognising their feelings and experiences without judgment. This sets the tone for open and honest conversations and helps individuals to know that their feelings are valid.
Speak the language
Before you dive into mental health communications, it's imperative to understand your audience. Recognise that mental health is a diverse and nuanced subject, and your audience may consist of individuals at various stages of their mental health journey, or groups that may have different views associated with mental health. Tailor your messages to their specific needs, concerns, and levels of awareness.
Speak your audience's language. Use relatable terms and phrases that resonate with them. Avoid jargon or overly clinical language that might feel distant or confusing.
Inclusivity matters. Be sure to use language that is respectful of diverse experiences, backgrounds, and identities. Acknowledge that different cultural perspectives exist and should be respected. Mental health affects everyone, so make sure your messaging reflects that. For example, studies show that men prefer a solution-focused approach when it comes to seeking help for mental health, therefore frame your messaging around taking action for men.
Break down stigma
One of the most important missions in mental health communications is to break down the stigma surrounding it and around seeking support. Remind your audience that it's OK to talk about mental health and that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
For far too long, mental health and physical health have been treated as two separate entities. Use your platforms to challenge misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding mental health. Encourage open conversations and portray mental health as a natural part of the human experience.