According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, every year 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 6 children between the ages of 6-17 experience mental illness. Given the prevalence of mental illness, conversations about mental health should be an everyday occurrence. These conversations should be filled with compassion.
If you're concerned about someone's mental health, you want to have an open and compassionate conversation. This means that you talk about mental health as you would any conversation. Sure, you take the conversation seriously because it's a serious topic, but not address it as though it's a taboo subject. You can talk about what you're noticing that concerns you, offer support and suggestions on how to help. Suggest the person consult a licensed mental health professional.
Realize that if you're feeling anxious about the conversation then the person is going to see or feel your nervousness. If you bite your lip, fidget, play with your hands, break eye contact then you're sending messages that you're not comfortable.
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