“Even GPs can be wary about asking, for fear of planting ideas in the person’s head – but there’s no evidence for that.”
Do say: ‘How does that affect you?’
“Other than pills, talking therapy is all we have for mental health,” says Hamilton. “We don’t have high-tech equipment and blood tests, we just have empathy and the ability to listen to people – so it’s critical to do that well.
”Listening properly is a real skill. It can take years to develop: to know the right moment to ask a question, when to paraphrase – that lets the person know you’ve been listening, but it also gives them the opportunity to correct any misunderstanding.
“I know from the years I’ve spent doing this that you can make assumptions. You need to allow people to gently correct that.”
Do say: ‘How are you feeling?’
This year, Time To Talk Day has launched a new campaign, Ask Twice, acknowledging that sometimes people say that they’re fine when they’re not. So if someone is acting differently, or if you’re concerned about them, ask not just once but twice.
Do say: ‘Thinking of you’
The act of checking in and asking how someone is alone can make them feel less alone, and remind them that they’re cared for. According to Time to Talk, simply sending a text to let them know you’re thinking of someone or arranging an activity can be helpful.