International Friendship Day is a time to recognise the importance of connecting with friends, and one of the most important aspects of friendship is being able to open up to one another if you’re struggling.
Revealing how Brits feel talking about mental health, greetings card company thortful, has surveyed 1,500 Brits to find out just how comfortable we are broaching the subject of mental health with friends and family and what we like to do to improve it.
Over a third find mental health to be a difficult topic
To some, it might not surprise that many Brits still find it troubling to talk to their friends about their mental health (36%). Additionally, two-fifths (40%) are uncertain how to support their friend with mental health issues.
While 38% of respondents claimed they feel comfortable talking about their mental health to friends and family, 62% of Brits are not completely at ease about broaching the topic.
Nearly half (49%) claim they would tell their family and friends they feel “fine”, even if they’re struggling. The study also revealed that females spot symptoms of mental health-related issues, such as depression, anxiety, and stress, easier than their male counterparts. In addition, men find it more difficult to talk to their friends about mental health, showing the need to encourage more men to open up.
How can we support friends and family in need of help?
While it’s important to direct your friends and family to a health professional who can support their needs if they are struggling, there are small things we, with close relations, can do to help, too.
thortful’s survey showed the top things people did for their friends and family needing support. They were:
- Calling them regularly – 55%
- Meeting up for a coffee – 42%
- Going for regular walks – 30%
- Keeping them in the loop with social events – 29%
- Helping them find professional support – 21%
With nearly a third of respondents saying they like to go for a walk with a friend to support mental health, Dennis Relojo-Howell, the managing director of psychology website Psychreg, explains the science behind why this is a great way to open up.
“Going for a walk with friends has multiple mental health benefits from a psychological perspective, several of which are underpinned by well-established theories and empirical evidence.
“As shown by a 2021 systematic review, regular physical activity, including walking, improves mental health by reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Exercise has been shown to stimulate the release of endorphins, the body’s natural mood elevators while reducing levels of stress hormones. It also promotes better sleep, which can help regulate mood and decrease anxiety.
“Walking, particularly in a calm and pleasant environment, can be a mindfulness exercise. Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment and accepting it without judgement. This practice can lower stress levels and increase overall life satisfaction.
Dennis continues: “The combination of physical activity, social support, mindfulness, and nature exposure can all contribute to building mental resilience over time. Resilience is the psychological strength to cope with stress and adversity. Developing resilience is a key component of mental health and well-being.
Dennis concluded: “Each of these elements supports different aspects of mental health, but like all therapeutic interventions, its effectiveness can vary from person to person and depends on a variety of factors, such as individual preferences, existing mental and physical health conditions, and the quality of the relationships with the friends involved in the walk.”
Commenting on the survey findings, the senior brand manager at thortful, Becky Daniels, says: “At thortful we’re all about being thoughtful to others and being open about our feelings, whether it’s joy, sadness, or everything in between. The survey reveals we can still break the mental health stigma, but we hope these numbers and tips offer insight and help to anyone needing it.”