A DIY manual for how to share your struggles with family and friends, and how to listen well when they do

A DIY manual for how to share your struggles with family and friends, and how to listen well when they do

Start here.

Tanmoy Goswami
🆘 We are 1/3rd there! Help me raise another US$ 740 so I can pay for the ethical software that's the backbone of Sanity.

Ghost, the software platform I use to publish Sanity, is expensive, and my subscription to it is about to renew soon. I chose Ghost because it's a nonprofit, won't ever sell out to greedy investors, and has strong values that align with our community's. But since I have no paywall and ain't selling your data to advertisers, I need your support to keep the lights on. I am so grateful to all of you who've already helped me complete 1/3rd of my crowdfunding target. You know who you are.

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May is Mental Health Month in the US. This year's theme: 'Where to Start'. Says Mental Health America, the organisation behind the campaign:

"While society is getting more comfortable discussing mental health, it can still be hard to know 'Where to Start' when it comes to taking care of your own well-being."

The messages I get from Sanity readers around the world remind me daily that it's just as hard to know where to start when dealing with someone struggling with mental health challenges in your family or friends circle.

It shouldn't be. Lived experience experts have said for ages that the most powerful way you can help is by listening well. And yet, passing the basic test of solidarity remains an astonishingly difficult task for many (I've been there too, so not judging).

The thing is, simply telling people to 'listen well' doesn't work. I've been looking for concrete examples of what it means to listen poorly according to lived experience experts, so we can identify these behaviours in ourselves and unlearn them. I found what I was looking for in a paper by a group of Singapore researchers led by Ellaisha Samari, where they break down the causes and effects of stigma associated with how family and friends of persons with lived experience respond to their attempts to open up to them. Based on interviews with patients with depressive disorders from a tertiary psychiatric hospital in Singapore, they list five broad types of stigmatising responses:

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