“Did you know that every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide? This year, World Mental Health Day focuses on suicide prevention.”
A teary eyed godmother, shared the story of her young godson, just 12, who took his life. It wasn’t a natural place to cry, but the room was left wet-eyed, passing around tissues in our workplace conference room. A father posted on a local group yesterday, angry about his son, 22, who left them without writing a letter, hundreds of condolence comments ensued. My roomate’s close friend, 20’s, took his life at work after appearing totally happy at a family wedding just weeks before.
These stories aren’t from the newspapers or tv shows. They’re real. And they’re getting closer and closer to us. But a lot of the time, those who are suffering keep it under wraps. Afraid of the burden in sharing their feelings, ashamed of how it might appear, crushed under the pressure of the perfect lives portrayed around them.
The thing with our emotions is that they don’t appear as a cut, or a bruise, a graise or in a cast. All of these invite our enquiring comfort and care. Our mental health is so invisible that we, the families and friends, may have no idea if something is not quite right with those we love around us.
We are not to blame.
Mental health is still a social taboo. The more we open up as individuals, as workplaces, as schools and as society, the more this taboo will start to shift. Day’s like today, World Mental Health day are big step in the right direction.
Invoking meaningful conversation makes a huge impact in improving our overall wellbeing. It’s a great way to relieve stress and deepen our relationships. We are social beings living in an ever more unsocial world. So do we need to start having deep conversations over small talk to improve our mental health?
A study from the University of Arizona found participants who had more substantive conversations with others reported a greater degree of happiness overall. So, what’s stopping us?
We need to ask.
We need to listen.
We need to support.
Here are 50 meaningful questions we can start asking the people around us…. you never know, it might just save their day.
- What’s been worrying you lately?
- How do you handle stress?
- What do you do when you are bored?
- What music makes you particularly happy?
- What makes you really angry? Why?
- What made you laugh recently?
- What scares you?
- Is there a thought or an event that you find unsettling?
- When was the last time you cried?
- Tell me about a time you laughed so hard, you cried!
- Do you think you’re introverted or extroverted?
- Do you consider yourself creative?
- What makes you feel accomplished?
- Have you ever felt broken hearted?
- What makes you feel uneasy?
- When was the last time you felt overwhelmed?
- Where does happiness come from?
- What made you smile today?
- What went well or not so well today?
- How did you feel about ‘xyz’?
- What have you got coming up today?
- Do you want to ‘xyz’ together later?
- What made you feel grateful today?
- Is anything weighing on you?
- What are you prioritising today?
- What was your best year to date?
- Is there anything you wish you knew more about me?
- Do you think you hold yourself back?
- Is there anything you wish you could do right now?
- Tell me about a time you felt you were living life to the fullest
- What experiences do you feel have impacted your life so far?
- Is what you’re doing now what you always wanted to do growing up?
- What is the small talk in your head usually about?
- What do you do when you need to be alone?
- What was your worst year to date?
- Do you feel free right now?
- What’s your favourite memory of us?
- Who is your best friend?
- Who was your role model growing up?
- Tell me about your friends
- What are people like at work?
- How do you like to socialise?
- What is your manager/Teacher like?
- Which parent are you closer to and why?
- What did your last relationship teach you?
- What qualities do you admire in ‘xyx’/your parents?
- Who are the people you’re closest to right now?
- Have you ever been in love?
- Why did your last relationship end?
- How many people do you speak to per day?
- When was your last meaningful conversation?
- Is there anyone you need to forgive for anything?
The questions are endless, we just need to hold the space, take the time and ask. Share in return. Be vulnerable. Listen lovingly.
What are your meaningful questions?
Let’s keep the list going – Comment below!