Effective communication and mental well-being
Dr Chido Rwafa-Madzvamutse
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
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])