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10th May 2023

How a small conversation can make a big difference

Sarah McKenna Barry

Brought to you by Mental Health Ireland.

A strong support network is vital for your mental health.

When it comes to looking after our mental health, no one is alone. We all experience our own struggles from time to time, but knowing that we can turn to others for help can strengthen our mental health, even during tough times.

Indeed, having a strong support network is vital. Being open about how we’re feeling with our friends or family and connecting with others can make a huge difference, regardless of how big or small our problems feel. Thankfully, as new research from Mental Health Ireland shows, the majority of the Irish population report having people they can turn to when times get tough.

As part of their Hello, How Are You? campaign, Mental Health Ireland surveyed over 1,000 adults, and it demonstrated just how important it is to connect with others. A quarter of respondents reported having six or more people they can turn to if they have a serious problem, while over half have three to five people they can open up to. Overall, three quarters of those surveyed report having a moderate or strong support system. Having said that, one in five respondents said that they have a poor support network, while 2% feel that they have no one to turn to.

The Hello, How Are You? campaign also gauged how comfortable we really are about opening up to those in our network, and how equipped we feel in supporting others. Over half of the population said that they are very comfortable in talking to a friend about what’s on their mind. However, only one in five said that they are very confident in knowing how to support their friends or family, with males struggling with this in particular.

With regards to who we turn to for help, the vast majority rely on their family or friends, but the Hello, How Are You? campaign highlighted how we’re getting more comfortable seeking support from mental health professionals. For everyday concerns, family and friends are the top two choices, with doctors or GPs also featuring prominently. However, when it comes to challenges like depression or anxiety, people are more likely to turn to their doctor or their GP when compared to everyday challenges, though family and friends still remain in the top two positions.

The campaign highlighted just how important it is to connect with others when it comes to minding our mental health. For instance, those who reported having only one or two people to rely upon are significantly less likely to seek help from professionals, than those with a wider support network.

Indeed, our social support networks play an important role in looking after our mental health. Even one small conversation can make a massive difference, which is why it’s vital to connect with others and to seek help when we need it.

According to a survey by Mental Health Ireland for the Hello, How Are You? campaign, over half the population would be comfortable talking to a friend about a worry, but only 1 in 5 would know how to support a friend who is struggling. Even a small conversation can make a big difference. Find out more about how to support a loved one and yourself at It starts with Hello, How Are You?