Effective communication and mental well-being

Dr Chido Rwafa-Madzvamutse

Mental Wellness

As discussed in previous articles, mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which an individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a meaningful contribution to their community. 

The ability to communicate effectively is a key part of maintaining mental well-being. 

When we are able to communicate our stresses and challenges to others, we are able to deal with these challenges better and ask for help when we need it. 

What is effective communication and what are the mental health benefits of communicating effectively?

Effective communication is more than an exchange of information but involves the ability to communicate and understand the emotions and intent behind our words. Effective communication has several benefits for our mental health and well-being including: 

 Helping us build and maintain relationships, this helps us build an effective support system around us

 Helping us make others aware of our challenges and helps to share our stresses and burdens 

 Allowing us to solve problems more effectively 

 Decreasing our stress levels and lowering the risk of anxiety, depression and other common mental health problems 

How do mental health challenges affect our ability to communicate effectively?

Ineffective communication can sadly result in:

 Misunderstandings and breakdown of relationships 

 Frustration

 Stress and anxiety

  Anger and hostility

 Social isolation and loneliness

 Poor support systems

Mental health problems can make it difficult for us to communicate effectively:

 Stress and anxiety: When we are stressed and overwhelmed, it affects our ability to be clear and concise in our communication 

 Depression: Depression can make us socially withdraw from others and struggle to communicate our stressors, emotions and challenges

 Psychotic mental health problems: conditions that cause hallucinations and delusions and unusual thinking can lead to misunderstanding and miscommunication 

The stigma that surrounds mental health challenges can make it difficult for us to talk to others about our challenges and get timely help. 

How can I communicate effectively with someone struggling with a mental health challenge?

 Create a safe environment to allow free communication 

 Give sufficient time for free communication 

 Listen compassionately and attentively 

 Be empathetic and non-judgemental 

 Protect confidentiality as far as possible

 Provide information about where to get further help and follow up on them

If you think that you or someone that you know may be struggling with a mental health problem, please contact your nearest health care provider and get help.

l Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ) article written by: Dr. Chido Rwafa- Madzvamutse, Consultant Psychiatrist.

Feedback: Dr. Chido Rwafa Madzvamutse Whatsapp+263714987729) (www.ahfoz.org; [email protected])

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