How to have a conversation about mental health

You’ve decided to have a conversation to a friend or family member about their mental health, but you’re nervous, not sure where to start or what will happen.


Tips on how to start a conversation about mental health

  • You can start with a simple question, “I’ve noticed you’re quiet recently, is everything OK?” or “I haven’t seen you at footy practice, how are you going?”
  •  Allow them to finish their sentences and thoughts without interrupting.
  •  Listen and take the time to understand what they are going through.
  •  You can repeat back what they’ve said in your own words, to make sure you understand their experience.
  •  You can ask questions such as, “How long have you been feeling this way?” and “How can I support you?”
  •  Do not judge their situation or feelings. Take what they say seriously.
  •  Do not minimise what they are telling you. Don’t say, “It’s probably nothing.”
  •  If you have a similar story to tell, let them know about it and that you understand.
  •  If they have been down for over two weeks, encourage them to seek professional help. You can assist them to find the right support.
  •  By having a conversation, you’re letting the person know that they are not alone. Tell them that you are there for them and they can talk to you again.

RU OK? Day is on 14 September. This is the perfect time to start the conversation.

Visit our Discussing Suicide: How to talk to somebody about suicide page.


If you are worried about someone, and need someone to talk to, call the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 to speak to a counsellor.

If it is an emergency, please call 000.