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Communication

Do not ask a person about mental health issues, though the person may choose to share that information with you. For many people, even gentle questions can lead them to feel targeted and likely to be discriminated against. It’s usually better to ask “what can I do to help you cope in this situation?”

  • Be clear and concise when speaking to the person, and offer lots of breaks, just like you would with anyone else. If they seem disconnected, talk to them about it, and ask what you can do to help.
  • It may be helpful for a person with a mental health issue to take notes or record a conversation so it will be available to them later.
  • Allow people to talk about concerns around seeking medical or legal help. They may be concerned about their mental health issues being used against them.
  • Reassure them that you will meet them where they are, and that you are not concerned with whatever labels they have been given.
  • If someone is getting agitated or upset, you can gently point that out to them and offer them a break.
  • Ask if the person is aware of any triggers that they want you to know about. This can reduce the likelihood of scaring the person and increase their trust in you. Don’t push for the reasons behind their triggers unless they want to discuss it with you.